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updated: 6/1/2012 2:57 PM

Carpentersville toddler to get second kidney transplant

Wheeling man decides to donate after reading Daily Herald stories

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  • Nathan Saavedra of Carpentersville is scheduled to receive another kidney donation at the end of June from Kalin Koychev of Wheeling, above left with his sons Kaloyan, 5, left, and Konstantin, 3. His first transplant, which took place two years ago, failed.

       Nathan Saavedra of Carpentersville is scheduled to receive another kidney donation at the end of June from Kalin Koychev of Wheeling, above left with his sons Kaloyan, 5, left, and Konstantin, 3. His first transplant, which took place two years ago, failed.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Kalin Koychev of Wheeling, pictured with his sons Kaloyan, 5, left, and Konstantin, 3, will donate one of his kidneys to Nathan Saavedra, 3.

      Kalin Koychev of Wheeling, pictured with his sons Kaloyan, 5, left, and Konstantin, 3, will donate one of his kidneys to Nathan Saavedra, 3.
    courtesy of Kalin Koychev

  • Nathan Saavedra will get a new kidney from a donor in Wheeling.

       Nathan Saavedra will get a new kidney from a donor in Wheeling.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Nathan's story

 
 

Nathan Saavedra is getting a third chance at a normal life.

The 3-year-old Carpentersville boy who suffers from prune belly syndrome needs a new kidney because his body rejected his first transplant.

Now, Kalin Koychev, a 33-year-old Wheeling resident, will give one of his kidneys to Nathan. Koychev said the Daily Herald's coverage of Nathan's plight prompted his decision to give.

Like Nathan's first donor, he agreed to donate without having ever met the Saavedras.

"I told myself it's me God wants to use to save the kid's life (and) I am available -- I would love to do it," said Koychev, who is married with two sons, one of them Nathan's age. "I put myself into the shoes of his parents, how they feel."

The surgery is scheduled for June 21, and while Koychev is not a perfect match, he has come closest out of the 50 people who volunteered to be tested, mom Tina Saavedra said, adding that there is a 2 percent chance of finding a perfect match.

Nathan will need to take medicine a week before the operation to eliminate antibodies in his blood that could force him to reject the kidney. He is expected to spend a month at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, where his surgery is taking place.

Even with treatment, there still is a chance Koychev's kidney won't take, either.

"It's like taking a jump into faith that it's going to work and everything happens for a reason and we're going to have a chance," Tina Saavedra said. "I'm not really religious, but I just have to look at it like, 'Nathan lost a kidney for a reason, and for a reason this guy came to us.'"

Prune belly syndrome causes the stomach to be underdeveloped and leads to other health issues, especially with the urinary tract and kidneys.

As a result of the disease, Nathan eats with a feeding tube and can't walk.

Carpentersville resident Chris Doing donated a kidney to Nathan in October 2010. But doctors had to remove the kidney five months later because it had twisted inside him and no blood was flowing to it.

Koychev said he always has maintained a healthy lifestyle -- he was a physical education teacher in Bulgaria before coming here -- so he's sure he won't miss his kidney.

Besides, donating a kidney to Nathan is all part of God's plan, he said, adding that he and his wife, Sevda, made the decision as a family.

"It's about God meeting people, getting people connected and making his miracle every day," Koychev said. "We just need to keep our eyes open."

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