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updated: 7/3/2012 6:10 PM

Kidney transplant recipient out of hospital, now at home

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  • Nathan Saavedra

       Nathan Saavedra
    John Starks | Staff Photographer


Nathan Saavedra is home for the holiday and, hopefully, for good.

Doctors released the 3-year-old Carpentersville boy from Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago on Tuesday afternoon, 12 days after he underwent a kidney transplant.

Nathan's most recent stay began June 16 and it involved getting treatments to lower his antibodies prior to the transplant, undergoing the surgery and its subsequent recovery.

His mother, Tina Saavedra, 28, has been by his side since they checked into the hospital.

She'd been hopeful he'd get out on the Fourth of July, and doctors said her goal was definitely in reach. That he was let go a day earlier exceeded her expectations.

"I'm very relieved, I'm excited we're out of there because everything is going well and I'm just ready for a new start," Saavedra said. "It's going to be a hard new start but it's going to be a new start and in a normal environment with (his) brother and sister and all of that."

Nathan has prune-belly syndrome, an ailment seen 1 in 14,000 births. It affects the muscles in Nathan's urinary tract, resulting in a blockage of urine, which leads to kidney damage. As a result, Nathan has been in and out of hospitals since birth and had been on dialysis,

His family hopes this latest kidney is the ticket to Nathan leading a normal life. He received a kidney in 2010 from Chris Doing of Carpentersville, but it had to be removed five months later because it had twisted in the little boy's body.

Late last year, Kalin Koychev of Wheeling read about Nathan's need for a second kidney in the Daily Herald and decided to volunteer one of his, saying it was all a part of God's plan, though he'd never met the boy.

Upon hearing that Nathan was on his way home Tuesday, Koychev, texted, "Praise the Lord!"

Koychev and the Saavedras have become close since the donation and plan on hanging out again soon -- Koychev and his wife, Sevda, made a surprise visit to Nathan last week.

Nathan will continue to visit the hospital twice a week for checkups and tests to make sure the kidney is working properly.

Meanwhile, Tina Saavedra doesn't have anything special planned for Nathan on the Fourth of July, but is looking forward to reacquainting them both with Nathan's sister Alexis, 9, his brother Jeremiah, 7, and his father Juan.

"It's our start to a new journey," she said.

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