BOISE, Id. (KTVB) - An 11-year-old girl battling kidney disease her entire life is finally getting a chance at normalcy.
A St. Luke's medical assistant in Boise, Idaho, who has known Sophia Fratto for years decided to donate one of her own kidneys when she found out she was a perfect match.
Sophia was born with spina bifida and only one working kidney. Then at 2-and-a-half years old, she was diagnosed with leukemia, undergoing chemotherapy for more than two years, which wiped out her functioning kidney.
She has been struggling with her health her whole life - but now, she has a shot at being healthy.
"She's been on dialysis about a year-and-a-half now," Sophia's mom, Randee Gould, said. "It takes up our whole life. That's basically all she can do is dialysis."
Three days a week, for three hours a day, Sophia gets hooked up to a dialysis machine, which is helping keep her alive and performing functions that her failing kidney can't.
But Sophia and her mom say, it's an exhausting process. About two years ago, Randee took her out of school and now she's taking classes online.
"Her whole life she's been sick and spent in the hospital and we've almost lost her a couple times," Gould said.
Sophia has undergone 19 surgeries in her 11 short years. Last year doctors said it was time to look at another one: a kidney transplant.
"It's going to be a long road but it'll definitely be worth it," Gould added.
Toni Martinez has worked at St. Luke;s Children's Hospital for almost a decade, and has taken care of Sophia a few times over the years.
"When she came in one day she just looked like she had no spirit because she was so sick all the time," Toni said. "I have an 11-year-old and I couldn't imagine my daughter having to go through this."
One day, Toni approached Randee and asked if they had a donor yet. They told her they didn't, so she asked for more information.
"Then I started praying about it and I was like, 'OK, if this is meant to be, just let me know.'"
Feeling called to help, Toni decided to start the process. After several months of extensive medical and psychological testing, she found out she was a perfect match for Sophia.
"You have to be completely healthy - you can't be overweight, you can't have any underlying conditions," Martinez said. "To be a match it's very rare."
Toni had kept the details of the process from Randee so she wouldn't get her hopes up, but when all the results came back, Toni finally told her the news.
"I was in dialysis with Sophia and kind of had to go step outside because I just lost it. She's saving my baby's life," Randee said. "There's not much you can say to somebody other than 'thank you'."
Toni says after Sophia found out she was a match, she could sense that Sophia's spirits had been lifted; Toni says her eyes had a special glow once again. She says she's grateful that she is healthy and able to help save Sophia's life.
Both Toni and Sophia will head to Salt Lake City for surgery, and spend several weeks recovering there. Toni must take time off work and away from her normal life as she undergoes this life-changing procedure - but a life-saving one for Sophia.
"I'm ready to go back to regular school," Sophia said. "I'm really excited to go swimming this summer."
"This is her chance to finally be normal," Randee added.
They are looking to do the transplant mid-March but nothing is concrete yet, as the surgery has been pushed back a couple times because of Sophia's health. While insurance covers the surgery, Randee says not all travel and medication is covered. Visit their GoFundMe page. There is also a Facebook page where you can track Sophia's progress.
Since Toni is donating voluntarily, she says the medical aspect of the transplant is paid for but the rest of the expenses are out of her own pocket. Visit Toni's GoFundMe page.
After all she has gone through, Sophia says she wants to be a NICU nurse when she grows up because she was in the NICU for a month after she was born, and "really loves babies."
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