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Spring Break surprise: 10-year-old Brayden Russell gets a new kidney

Brayden Russell

THE WOODLANDS, Texas -- Most kids are back in school after Spring Break, but The Woodlands resident Brayden Russell has a pretty good reason why he's not.

The 10-year-old David Elementary School student is recovering from a long-awaited kidney transplant.

Brayden's mother Nina Russell said the call that a kidney was available came just a few days into Spring Break.

While it was exciting news, the family remained cautiously optimistic. They'd received that call a couple of times before, only to be disappointed when further detailed testing resulted in a mismatch.

But this time, a match was made, and Brayden underwent the five-hour surgery within hours of checking in at Texas Children's Hospital.

"We told him it was time for his new kidney," Nina said. "He was crying and actually told me 'no' because he was just afraid."

Now that the big surgery is over, Brayden is in better spirits.

Brayden Russell gives a 'thumbs up' shortly after his kidney transplant at Texas Children's Hospital

Brayden is no longer in intensive care, but he will remain in the hospital for another two weeks while his body responds to the new kidney, his 9-inch incision heals, and he adjusts to the anti-rejection medications he will now take for life.

Nina said kidney transplants typically last 10-20 years, which means Brayden may require two to three transplants over his lifetime.

Brayden began showing symptoms when he was 9-months old, but it wasn't until he was 4-years old that he was diagnosed with stage 4 chronic kidney disease.

"They told us he would eventually need a transplant, but that he would be in his teenage years before we would even have to think about it," Nina said. "It ended up being a lot sooner than we thought it would be."

Brayden's health had recently been deteriorating to the point where Nina feared he would require dialysis.

The kidney disease weakened Brayden's immune system, making him more susceptible to viruses and therefore fevers. He would also dehydrate very easily. That meant Brayden had to play it safe, so most sports and outdoor activities just weren't an option.

Now, though? Well, Brayden has already asked his nurses at Texas Children's when he can go to Schlitterbahn.

And his grandfather, Lee Bentch, can't wait for some long-anticipated guy time.

"He's my only grandson," said Lee, who also has four granddaughters. "I'm going to do everything I can to help him understand the world of being a young man."

 

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