To see Lyla run around a playground, you’d think she’s a typical 4-year-old. But her mother, Dena Carreyn, will be quick to tell you that Lyla’s not like this most days.
“Ninety-seven percent of the time, she feels pretty awful and doesn’t really have much energy,” Carreyn said. “So we’ve come to appreciate what we call the 3 percent.”
Lyla’s medical challenge began one year ago, when Dena got a call from her preschool, telling her Lyla was running a high fever.
“I went and got her from school and took her to urgent care,” Carreyn said. “Within 15 minutes, we were in an ambulance on our way to Children’s Hospital.”
Lyla’s kidneys suddenly failed, and her lungs filled with blood.
“Doctors told us at that point they didn’t know if she’d make it through the weekend,” Carreyn said.
After a three-week coma, Lyla woke up. She was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease known as MPA or microscopic polyangiitis. She was in desperate need of a kidney transplant.
“We had friends and family from all over the country getting tested, and we looked everywhere for a match,” Carreyn said.
Even Lyla’s birth mother was tested; she wasn’t a match either.
Six months passed with no luck, until Beth Battista saw a post on Facebook.
“I just felt like I had to go in and get tested,” Battista said.
She turned out to be a match. She also turned out to be Lyla’s 4K teacher.
“I didn’t know at the time she was going to be in my class this year,” Battista said. “I never really believed in fate, but I’m a believer now.”
Battista told Carreyn she would be Lyla’s donor by giving her a gift at school. Inside the box was a note that read, “I may just be her teacher now but soon a piece of me will be with Lyla forever. I’m her kidney donor.”
“Utter shock and disbelief,” Carreyn said. “It took a minute to sink in and when it did, we were just shaking and crying.”
“Being able to save a little, innocent child’s life and give her a future, it’s just amazing,” Battista said.
The new kidney will spare Lyla from what has become her nightly routine.
“On an average day, she receives 19 different medications, in addition to the 12 hours of dialysis,” Carreyn said.
Overnight, Lyla stays attached to a machine that takes toxins out of her body and puts medicine in.
“Because her kidneys don’t work and she doesn’t produce urine, any fluids she takes in during the day have to be taken off during dialysis,” Carreyn said.