It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. Your child is sick, and there’s nothing you can do to help them. But in this heartwarming story, the incredible kindness of one stranger saved the day.
Blake Bahr certainly did not have an easy start in life. Nick and Heather Bahr welcomed their little baby boy into the world in November 2014, but it quickly became apparent that he wasn’t very well.
Unfortunately, the baby was born with only one kidney, and it wasn’t functioning well. At just two days old, Blake received a kidney disease diagnosis. And because of his poor health, he spent the first few months of his life in hospital.
Blake was put on the donor registry because he was in desperate need of a new kidney. And he actually broke a record in doing so. Indeed, the little baby was the youngest patient ever to be placed on the waiting list.
Blake’s life certainly wasn’t easy while he waited on a kidney to become available, either. The little boy relied on feeding tubes, and for 13 hours each day he was hooked up to a dialysis machine. Things were hard on his parents, too.
For months, they anxiously waited for a call to say that doctors had found a donor match for their son. But Blake’s mom Heather wanted to do something other than wait for a donor to come to them. And so she decided to take to social media in order to share Blake’s story.
And in fact, it was Heather’s Facebook post that would eventually save her baby boy. Because a woman named Laurie Jansen stumbled upon Heather’s plea for help one night when she was scrolling through Facebook, unable to sleep.
Blake’s story struck a chord with Jansen. Her own mother had suffered from kidney disease and had undergone a successful transport. That kidney had lasted for 16 years, but after time took its toll on the organ Jansen’s mom needed a second transplant.
Jansen was desperate to donate her kidney to her mother, but she refused to accept it. And, tragically, medics weren’t able to find another donor in time. Jansen’s mom died in November 2013.
And so when Jansen saw Blake’s story, she knew she had to try and help. She got in touch with the Bahr family and offered herself up as a potential kidney donor, ready to take all the necessary tests.
“I tried to reassure her [Heather Bahr] that I was very sincere, and it was something I really wanted to do,” Jansen told the Herald Whig in February 2016. But first of all there was a phone interview to go through. Moreover, Jansen also had to have medical tests to check if she was even a match for Blake.
As it turned out, however, Jansen proved a perfect match. “It’s just incredible that she would do something like this for somebody she doesn’t even know,” Blake’s mom said. Little Blake was finally about to have the all-important kidney transplant that he so badly needed.
The life-saving kidney transplant surgery took place on January 18, 2015, by which point Blake was just over a year old. “It couldn’t have gone more smoothly,” his relieved mom told the Herald Whig.
The same surgeon operated on both Blake and Jansen. Technically, however, both patients were in surgery in separate hospitals, connected by an underground tunnel. “Basically he took my kidney out and walked it over and then did Blake’s surgery,” Jansen told the Herald Whig.
Jansen went back to work just two weeks after the surgery, and Blake was able to go home after spending just one week in hospital. But their story didn’t end there. The kidney, and their heartwarming story, have connected the two forever.
“We’ll never be able to thank her enough,” grateful mom Heather said in a KTVI interview. “She’s an awesome lady,” she continued. According to Jansen, however, it was just what she was “meant to do.”
“I think there was another reason my mother didn’t take my kidney,” Jansen explained. “I think there was just a higher reason for all of it. For me to open that page and click on it. To reach out to the Bahrs and to be a perfect match. I think there was definitely a little bit of a miracle involved there.”
Miracle or not, little Blake is now a healthy toddler thanks to Jansen’s kindness. And he has been making great progress. “He’s learning how to walk. He’s eating everything in sight — no more feeding tubes, no more dialysis!” Heather said.
Jansen regularly stays in touch and visits Blake, seeing that they now share a special bond for life. “It’s amazing to see the changes in him,” she told the Herald Whig. “To see him being so mobile, to see him talking and walking.”
To celebrate Blake and Jansen’s success story, the Bahrs donated 1,000 books to the hospital that treated Blake, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon. Books provided a distraction for Blake when he was undergoing dialysis treatment. And now the Bahrs hope that their donation will help entertain other children unfortunate enough to be going through a similar ordeal.