From Peru To Palo Alto To Save Julian’s Life
4-year-old receives “gift of life” from pediatrician aunt 4000 miles away
For Release: April 19, 2011STANFORD, Calif. -- “He’s talking up a storm, getting stronger every day, and getting ready to go home in the middle of May.”
Pediatric nephrologist Paul Grimm, MD, is talking about 4-year-old Julian Uceda-Valdez and his 4000 mile journey from Lima, Peru to Palo Alto for treatment of an extremely rare and deadly kidney disorder. On March 15 at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, Julian successfully received a living donor kidney transplant from his cousin Lourdes Valdez, a Northern California pediatrician. “It’s a blessing,” said mom Marita. “Such a gift, I just can’t believe it.”
The surgery was a loving and lifesaving moment for Julian, who says he’s now looking forward to the new Cars 2 movie and a couple dozen batches of mom’s brownies. He was born with congenital nephrotic syndrome, a deadly hereditary disorder that caused the tragic 2003 death of his brother at the age of two-and-a-half months. With transplant surgery not an option in Peru, parents Ricardo Uceda and Marita Valdez embarked on a global search for a top transplant center to save Julian’s life. That brought them to Packard Children’s, home to a kidney transplant program with one of the highest success rates in the world.
Julian with his parents, Ricardo and Marita,
In the meantime, money for the surgery was being raised through an amazing worldwide campaign called “Julian, be part of the miracle” with the help of a community of volunteers and charity events. The Children’s Organ Transplant Association, a national organization dedicated to guiding communities in raising funds for transplant-needy patients, led this global effort.
But wait a minute. Where would the transplant come from? Enter Marita’s first cousin “Auntie Lourdes,” a pediatrician who, in a remarkable but unsurprising sacrifice, decided that she would donate one of her kidneys to Julian. “When I learned that neither parent could be a donor, it just broke my heart,” said Lourdes, who was at Julian’s side in Peru when he was born, and was instrumental in helping diagnose his genetic condition and in connecting the family to Packard Children’s. One sleepless night, she turned to her husband, also a nephrologist, and said “I can be Julian’s donor.” “I just had this feeling that I was his best chance. I don’t know why, it just came from my heart.”
The 3-hour surgery on March 15 was performed by Waldo Concepcion, MD, Packard’s “ironman” of kidney transplant surgery who once led five transplants in two days. The kidney transplant team readied Julian in a Packard operating room while Lourdes was wheeled into surgery at Stanford Hospital & Clinics. First, Concepcion removed one of Lourdes’ kidneys, which was then quickly whisked to Julian at Packard for transplantation.
Julian and his kidney donor, Dr. Lourdes Valdez
Friends and family in Peru can’t wait to have Julian home, where he’ll settle back into his beloved routine of solving puzzles and reading just about anything he can get his hands on. “We are incredibly grateful to Lourdes for her marvelous sacrifice, to the community for their donations, and to Packard Children’s for their exceptional care,” said Ricardo. “Julian has received the very best, and that’s why we are now able to take our little boy home. We are so, so thankful.”
1. Pioneering research from Packard Children’s has demonstrated that a kidney transplanted from an adult donor into an infant or small child has the greatest chance of success of any organ transplant in any age group.
About Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford
Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2011, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital is annually ranked as one of the nation's best pediatric hospitals by U.S.News & World Report, and is the only San Francisco Bay Area children’s hospital with programs ranked in the U.S.News Top Ten. The 311-bed hospital is devoted to the care of children and expectant mothers, and provides pediatric and obstetric medical and surgical services in association with the Stanford University School of Medicine. Packard Children's offers patients locally, regionally and nationally a full range of health care programs and services, from preventive and routine care to the diagnosis and treatment of serious illness and injury. For more information, visit www.lpch.org.
Media ContactRobert Dicks