Young kidney recipient featured on FOX59 collects donations for Riley Hospital for 10th birthday

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Six years after receiving a living kidney donation from her mother that saved her life, 10-year-old Bella Cruz used her birthday to collect donations for Riley Hospital for Children.

Cruz donated a wagon to the hospital. Donors at a certain level can choose a message to place on the license plates on the wagons, which are used by families as they navigate the children's hospital in Indianapolis.

"She always loved to read the license plates and what they said," Bella's mom, Gia Cruz, said.

FOX59 first met Bella and her mom Gia in 2013, as the two prepared for Gia to donate her kidney to save her daughter's life. Six months after surgery, Bella was already noticeably more energetic and back to life as a child.

The Cruz family continues to advocate for living kidney donation, especially because Bella will need another donation, likely when she is around 20 years old.

"We just celebrated six years with her transplant and life is just, the best way I can describe it is completely normal. It’s really hard to remember what it was life before that, and you know transplant isn’t a cure, but I like to say it’s a really fantastic Band-Aid," Gia Cruz said.

Bella's wagon at the hospital includes the message, "Believe in miracles: Mark 10:27." The wagon will remain in rotation at the hospital for at least a year or two, along with hundreds of others.

"The gift that Riley has given us of the transplant and how well everything has (gone) has really impacted us, so this is kind of the least we can do to be able to celebrate her birthday," Gia Cruz said.

To learn more about the Riley Hospital wagon program, click the link here. To learn more about living kidney donation, click this link for more information from IU Health.

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