Thrive by IU Health

May 27, 2021

Father Donates Kidney to Young Son: “It’s a Huge Sigh of Relief”

Father Donates Kidney to Young Son: “It’s a Huge Sigh of Relief”

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

It was in her 20th week of pregnancy when Jessica Leazenby learned that the son she was expecting was experiencing kidney problems. She and her husband, Clinton consulted a maternal fetal medicine specialist close to their Valparaiso, Ind. home.

Jameson Leazenby entered the world on June 23, 2017. It was a day of excitement for the Leazenbys welcoming their first child. It was also a day of anxiety.

Jameson Leazenby childhood photo

“When we first learned about his kidney problems we thought it might be a quick outpatient procedure and it would be corrected,” said Jessica. At 37 weeks they learned their baby was not producing urine. “I was induced and he came out not breathing,” said Jameson’s mom. At just two days old, Jameson was airlifted from a Valparaiso hospital and transported to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

“I’m so glad we made the decision to go to Riley. We didn’t have time to sit down and research; it was a gut decision and it was the right decision,” said Jessica. Jameson is in the care of IU Health Pediatric Nephrologist Dr. Corina Nailescu.

Jessica and her husband Clinton met as students at Indiana University South Bend. As college students they worked in the same restaurant. They were married four years ago. Jessica now works as an adjunct business professor and her husband works in sales.

When they decided to start a family Jessica said her pregnancy was normal.

“I did everything by the books and continued running throughout my pregnancy. There was nothing unusual at all,” said Jessica. Once his kidneys failed, Jameson began peritoneal dialysis. The family knew he would eventually need a transplant.

It was the start of COVID-19 when IU Health transplant coordinator Mary Lynn Subrin first met the Leazenbys. It had been almost 30 years since Subrin’s husband had a kidney transplant. She could relate to the Leazenbys both personally and professionally.

“When COVID hit none of us knew what was coming. We were all nervous. When I saw Jessica for the first time, the terror on her face broke my heart,” said Subrin. “I told her about my husband and that I was scared too. I told her we’d get through this together,” said Subrin. She also assured the Leazenbys that they were in good hands with Dr. Nailescu and IU Health transplant surgeon Dr. William Goggins. That first meeting was the beginning of Jameson’s journey toward a new kidney.

“Mary Lynn has been amazing. She’s been great about keeping us up on communication and she adores Jameson,” said Jessica.

On February 20, three –year-old Jameson was admitted to Riley Hospital. The next morning, his dad arrived at IU Health University Hospital and under the care of Dr. Chandru Sundaram surgery was performed to remove Clinton Leazenby’s kidney. It was then transported to Riley Hospital where Dr. Goggins transplanted it into young Jameson.

“Becoming Jameson’s donor was honestly a huge relief that I was his match,” said Clinton Leazenby. “I can’t think of a parent in my situation who would not do the same for their child. I was ecstatic that I was able to give him a kidney and see how Jameson has successfully progressed since February.” It’s especially rewarding to his parents to see Jameson grow and enjoy eating. For a year leading up to transplant Jameson was on growth hormones preparing his body to receive the new organ.

Jameson and Clinton wearing "Doner" shirts

Clinton Jameson was discharged two days after the transplant and says now his life is completely back to normal. And months since he received a new beginning, the blonde-haired blue-eyed Jameson is a healthy 40 pounds. He loves hanging out with his one-year-old brother, camping, dressing up like Buzz Lightyear, and playing with trucks and robots.

“I would definitely say to anyone considering becoming a donor to get tested,” said his dad. “It’s painless considering the honor to be able to be in that position and donate such a wonderful gift that gives someone a second chance, a new beginning, and tremendously improves their life.”

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