Brownsburg family’s kidney donation sheds light on need for more donors

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Four-year-old Bella Cruz is recovering from a kidney transplant, thanks to the bravery of her own mom. As she does, Indianapolis is hosting two national conferences aimed at getting more people to sign up as potential organ donors.

Bella’s path to normalcy started last week, as Fox59 met the Cruz family just before surgery. Bella has chronic kidney disease and her mom, Gia, gave up one of her own kidneys for her daughter.

Both surgeries went well and Gia is now recovering at home. Doctors are keeping an eye on Bella at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, but expect her to be ready to go home soon.

“What I would expect for her in the next three to six months is she will catch up to kids her own age, in development and in growth,” said Dr. William Goggins, who performed Bella’s surgery.

As Bella’s dad Fred stays by her side, their story comes at an important time. This week, Indianapolis is hosting two national conferences focused on organ donation. Leaders from across the country have come together to talk about how to get more people to become donors.

“Hopefully, it makes people think, we need more organ donors, period,” said Sam Davis with the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization.

More than 60 percent of Hoosiers are registered donors, but the registry does not cover living donors, like in Bella’s case. That requires people to step forward, often family or friends.

“You’re seeing it happen on Facebook. You’re seeing it happen through websites like MatchingDonors.com or through the national kidney registry. It’s kind of a new frontier right now,” said Bryan Stewart with One Legacy.

A new frontier that, in Bella’s case, is necessary. She’ll need at least two more kidneys in her lifetime. The next will be when she’s around 20 years old.

For now, though, it’s all about getting better. Bella’s dad called her recovery and successful surgery the ultimate Father’s Day gift.

“I couldn’t have expected a better gift than to have life given to my daughter for a second time,” Cruz said.

If you’d like to learn more about registering as a potential donor, go to Donate Life Indiana.