Urbana mother to donate organ to 2-year-old daughter born without functioning kidneys

URBANA — An Urbana girl just celebrated her second birthday after doctors weren’t sure she’d ever get to go home with her parents.

>>PREVIOUS COVERAGE: 2-year-old Urbana child approved for kidney transplant

Emma Allen was born with only one kidney, and it didn’t work. She’s been on dialysis since she was five days old.

>>PHOTOS: Urbana family shares journey of daughter in need of kidney

Soon she will be able to get off of dialysis as she prepares to get a kidney transplant. Tabatha Allen, Emma’s mom, will be the donor.

>>Fundraiser started for Urbana infant needing kidney transplant

In March 2020 Emma was scheduled to get her kidney removed, but when restrictions due to COVID-19 began to be implemented at hospitals her surgery was postponed.

“It was so much because I had so many mixed emotions,” Allen said. “The first thing as soon as COVID hit and we didn’t know what was going on, I said I don’t want my daughter in a hospital.”

Later that summer Emma did get her kidney removed. Her parents have to take special precautions and have her on dialysis every day. It can be an arduous regiment.

On March 9th, Emma turned two-years-old. It took a lot to get to that day including plenty of time in hospitals especially as Tabatha was being tested as a possible match for the kidney transplant.

“I was more nervous that I wouldn’t qualify and then we wouldn’t have a donor,” Allen said. “So then every test is kind of nerve racking and they’re not always instantaneous.”

The hope is they will have a date for the transplant by the end of March.

“My biggest fear right now is I’m her main caregiver,” she said. “We’re both going to be in major surgery and then everyone keeps telling me you have to recover and things like that which I know but your motherly instinct is you want to go take care of your child.”

Tabatha continuously calls Emma a miracle. Her life will never be easy, even after the transplant. She’ll be on medication that requires a strict routine to help ensure her body doesn’t reject the transplant, something that will cause Emma to be at higher risk of disease and infection. However, after the transplant she won’t have to be on dialysis and her life should improve.

“She’s so strong and she’s so courageous,” Tabatha said. “She’s been through so much that people haven’t even been in a lifetime and she just turned two. But she also doesn’t know any different.”

March is National Kidney Awareness Month, something that means much more to the family now.

“There are a lot of children and people that are on the waiting list,” Tabatha said. “And you don’t need both of your kidneys. To be an organ donor is really important to people that are going through these things. It changes their life forever.”

Tabatha said that Emma will likely have to undergo two or three kidney transplants over the course of her life.

You can follow Emma’s journey or, if interested, donate at the family’s website through the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, a national 501(c)3 charity dedicated to organizing and guiding communities in raising funds for transplant-related expenses, https://cota.org/campaigns/COTAforTeamEmmaA/blog/our-story.

The family also posts updates on their Facebook page.

James Rider

I was born in Virginia and have moved several times in my life as a member of an Air Force family. I've lived in Virginia, California, Germany, England, and Ohio. I graduated from Centerville High School and then went on to attend Ball State University where I graduated with a bachelor's degree.