When one little boy was born with kidney troubles, his mom always knew that a transplant would become necessary at some point. However, when that day came, there was no suitable donor available. Then a cop knocked on her door with the most overwhelming news.
Kristi Goll and her family live in Janesville, Wisconsin. Her little boy, Jackson Arneson, was born with a congenital condition that destroyed his kidneys. Furthermore, when he was born, complications related to the defect meant he had to spend two months in an intensive care unit.
The nature of Arneson’s condition meant that his health would gradually worsen. As a result, his family knew that he would one day need a kidney transplant. So, in preparation of that day, his loved ones tested themselves to see if they were a match.
Unfortunately, none of his friends and family turned out to be a match. So, Goll hoped that by the time Arneson needed his transplant, they would have found a donor. However, when the little boy was eight years old, doctors warned that he might not survive another winter.
Looking at Arneson, it was hard to digest the experts’ warnings. He enjoyed swimming and was obsessed with outer space. Moreover, up until this point, he hadn’t even had to undergo regular kidney dialysis.
However, now doctors were warning that Arneson’s only chance of survival was a living kidney donor. Furthermore, they’d need to have the O-positive blood type and match the little boy’s antigens as closely as possible.
With all her son’s blood relatives ruled out as matches, Goll began to panic about finding him a donor. So, in desperation, the mom took to social media. She posted a photograph of little Arneson and explained his prognosis.
“Jackson went in for a routine kidney appointment the end of November,” she wrote on Facebook in December 2016. “At this appointment, his labs showed that his kidney function is still decreasing and the doctors are in talks of activating him on the deceased donor list for a kidney transplant.”
“I always knew these days would come,” Goll added. “It’s just so hard when they are here. I have reached out before. I am just trying again to see if we can find anyone out there that would be interested in being tested.”
Moreover, the mother’s emotional words touched hearts. In a bid to help, more than 1,400 people subsequently shared the post. In addition, before long local media outlets had picked up Arneson’s story for their news bulletins.
That’s how police officer Lindsey Bittorf came to learn about the eight-year-old’s plight. The story pricked her interest because she too had the O-positive blood type. As a result, Bittorf decided to go in for testing.
Although she didn’t know the family personally, Bittorf saw it as her duty to help in any way she could. “If this were my child, I would hope every other mother would step in,” she told the University of Wisconsin (UW) Health website. So, she contacted the UW Health Transplant Program in Madison.
In May 2017 the transplant program contacted Bittorf to let her know she was a match for Arneson. However, while she was aware of the happy news, due to privacy laws the little boy’s family had no clue. As a result, Bittorf decided that she’d like to be the one to let them know.
So, the police officer decided to surprise the family with the life-changing news. In order to do so, she colluded with Arneson’s grandparents to get him and his mom to their house. Once they were in position, Bittorf arrived in her uniform with a knock on the door.
As a result, when Goll opened the door, she found the cop standing there with two presents in her hands. “I took an oath to serve and protect my community and now my kidney will serve and protect you. I am your kidney donor,” she told Arneson, according to Fox 8.
Bittorf’s kind gesture astonished Goll. “I’m so happy just thinking about Jackson’s future and all the things he’ll be able to experience after his transplant,” she told UW Health. “Lindsey is a beautiful person for giving him his future.”
So, in June 2017 little Arneson arrived at the American Family Children’s Hospital ahead of his transplant. Moreover, despite his looming surgery, nothing could wipe the smile from his face. “He wasn’t scared at all,” Goll told Fox 8. “He was just the bravest kid.”
The youngster’s surgery took a total of four hours and thankfully both Arneson and Bittorf’s operations went well. Doctors will monitor Arneson to see how his body adjusts to the new organ, and he’ll also take anti-rejection medication. Meanwhile, doctors will check Bittorf annually to ensure that her one remaining kidney is healthy.
Yet despite the risks to her health, Bittorf had no regrets about donating her kidney to little Arneson. Thanks to the surgery she’s gained lifelong friends in Goll and her family. Moreover, when Arneson recently turned nine, his family told her she didn’t need to buy him a present. She’d already given him the gift of life.
Bittorf wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’ve met other donors that have donated to people from across the country. I love that he’s in my home town, he’s in my area and I can harass him anytime I want,” she joked. “I love this kid as if he is my own. And he’s great with my own child.”