Born with only one functional kidney, Brooklyn showed no signs of cause for concern for most of her infancy. When she was 8 months old, a routine ultrasound recommended by her pediatrician revealed a tumor near her kidney—wrapped around her renal artery.
After a biopsy, physicians determined the tumor was not aggressive. But after some time, it began to grow.
At 2-and-a-half years old, Brooklyn began a series of chemotherapy treatments at Rady Children’s Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders to reduce the size of the tumor. After four rounds of chemotherapy, the tumor shrank enough for surgeons to remove it. The surgery was successful, but later that evening, Brooklyn’s kidney was not producing urine as it should.
“Brooklyn unfortunately developed a clot in her renal artery that damaged her kidney,” explains her dad, Andrew. “Doctors removed it, but she was placed on dialysis to remove toxins from her blood and had to stay in the hospital for over a month.”
Once back home, Brooklyn remained on dialysis for more than two years. She had to be hooked up to a machine for 10 hours a night, along with frequent bandage changes and blood pressure checks. Weekly treatments at Rady Children’s and other frequent appointments interrupted school and other normal childhood activities.
“She didn’t get to do a lot of the things that the other kids were able to do,” says Andrew. “She had to stay isolated much longer than other kids during COVID. She didn’t get to do swimming lessons like we planned to have her do at a young age.”
After two years with no recurrence of cancer, Brooklyn’s family and care team began preparing for her to receive a kidney transplant. Her mother and father both went through testing and learned that Andrew’s kidney was ideal for Brooklyn.
Just before her sixth birthday, Brooklyn was prepped for transplant surgery at Rady Children’s while Andrew underwent his own surgery at UC San Diego Health.
“When heading to the operating room, I was full of nerves,” Andrew says. “But I knew Brooklyn had been so brave throughout the whole process. Her bravery was my inspiration.”
When Andrew awoke from surgery, he received the news that both surgeries were a success and that his kidney, now transplanted to Brooklyn, was successfully producing urine.
“I breathed a sigh of relief. I was so grateful to have been able to give my daughter a chance at a healthy life,” says Andrew. “The whole process was remarkable and every single person on the Rady Children’s team was warm, gentle, friendly, and knew how to talk to and care for both children and parents while they go through some of the hardest moments in their life. Rady Children’s is an incredible organization made up of truly special people.”
Brooklyn is finally able to swim and take baths, taste new and different foods, sleep in her own bed, and attend school alongside her friends.
“She’s getting more of her life back,” says Andrew, “and I am humbled and grateful that she will be able to live it to the fullest.”
The Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders provides the most advanced cancer treatment and hematology services—including blood and bone marrow transplants—to more than 20,000 patients each year. The Peckham Center offers personalized care and wraparound support to offer healing and hope to children like Brooklyn and their families. Philanthropic support helps Rady Children’s focus on groundbreaking research, innovative treatments and holistic psychosocial programs led by the foremost experts in the field to improve outcomes for young patients fighting cancer and their families.