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“I was born sick with kidney problems,” says eight-year-old Ellie.

Before she was born, Ellie's family knew something was wrong. “An ultrasound at 20 weeks showed that there was no amniotic fluid and that her kidneys were not functioning. They knew she would be in kidney failure at birth,” explains Ellie’s mom, Alissa.

The family then found themselves at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Center for Advanced Fetal Care where they met with specialists who were prepared to handle Ellie’s complicated case.

“Even before babies are born, we can help families understand the steps that will be needed to help make their children healthy,” explains Roger Voigt, MB, ChB, FRACS, chief of pediatric surgery and urology.

The family says it wasn’t until they came to the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital that they felt like there was hope for Ellie’s future. She was treated by the pediatric nephrology and pediatric surgery and urology teams.

Ellie’s had more than 30 surgeries in her short 8 years of life. “At the age of two, Ellie had a kidney transplant. Her kidney came from someone we did not know because we were part of a kidney exchange. My mother, Ellie’s grandmother, donated a kidney which went to someone else. And Ellie then got a kidney from altruistic kidney donor, a woman named Lisa, who was a better match,” says Alissa.

“Children often need to wait until they are about 2 years old for a transplant because we need to be sure the kidney can fit into their abdomen,” explains Dr. Voigt. 

Future Political Dreams

Alissa is very grateful for the care Ellie has received at University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. “Dr. Voigt gave us hope when many other doctors did not, and he was willing to fight as hard as we were to give Ellie a chance from her very first day of life. Our lives have been blessed immensely by having such wonderful doctors in our lives, which has made this very unexpected journey through chronic childhood illness a much more bearable path to walk.”

Ellie is now doing really well. She is an outgoing girl who loves new adventures and vacations, as well as spending time with her family. Right now she wants to grow up and become a mayor of a city one day.

Are you looking for a pediatric specialist? Call the UM Children’s Hospital at 410-328-5887.