HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – At just 15 months old, Cooper Pfaff is defying the odds. He was born with End Stage Renal Disease.
His life has been filled with medical interventions to treat complications from his kidneys not working properly. Before his parents could even hold him, he underwent emergency surgery as a newborn to insert chest tubes, allowing him to breathe.
“He is truly a miracle baby. Like I mentioned before, he really shouldn’t be here and we’re just so thankful he is,” said his mother, Kasey Pfaff.
Cooper recently got the go-ahead from his doctors at CHKD to undergo a kidney transplant. The surgery means hope for Cooper, and a life of relative normalcy for the Pfaff family.
Cooper’s father Stephen, an Air Force officer, and his mother Kasey, alternate nights sleeping in a recliner holding Cooper as he spends 10 hours hooked up to his dialysis machine.
“For us, the hardest has been trying to get him his daily shots and daily medications, nightly dialysis. And I don’t think we’ve had one month where we haven’t been at the hospital for even a day stay,” Stephen said.
The Pfaffs also have a 5-year-old son, Griffin. They said caring for both children and meeting Cooper’s medical needs is a three-adult job, and they’re doing their best to get by with just two.
“You’ve got one who’s doing the daily grind of working and trying to bring home the bread. You have one who’s managing both boys and the households. And you have one who’s doing the medical,” Stephen said. “So, if you don’t have that kind of support you’re going to be in a constant state of movement. There really is no slow pace for that.
Kasey said the room that was supposed to be Cooper’s nursery is a storage room for medical supplies. She maintains inventories for shots and dialysis fluids.
“I’m kind of like a duck. It looks calm to the eye, but underwater, the legs are constantly moving. We might appear to be strong, appear to have it somewhat all together. This isn’t what I thought my motherhood experience would be like,” Kasey said.
Now, the family must find a match.
“We’re looking for an adult kidney ages 18 to 45. Blood types A+, A-, O +, and O-,” Stephen said.
They’re working with Brian Martindale of Kidneys for Kids to bring awareness to kidney donation.
Martindale himself donated a kidney 10 years ago to a then-stranger, Jessica Schwerin. Martindale said Schwerin is a thriving 20-year-old college student now. He and his wife see Schwerin as a daughter.
“It will be the most amazing experience of a person’s life. It will change your life completely. You realize every day the blessings you receive,” Martindale said of the donation experience.
The Pfaffs said that their hopes for Cooper’s future depend upon him receiving a kidney.
“For him, his pursuit of happiness is what it comes down to, what makes him happy, what joy it brings him. [We’re] just figuring out what that is and watching him grow in that,” Stephen said.
And, if a potential donor isn’t a match for Cooper, they can donate in his name. Cooper would receive a voucher to move up higher on the recipient list.
The Pfaffs are raising money to give to Cooper’s eventual kidney donor to cover travel, time off of work, and other expenses.
To follow Cooper’s journey, visit his Facebook page
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