TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Seeing an ultrasound of your unborn child can be one of the greatest moments for expecting parents. But that wasn't the case for a west Toledo couple when a routine ultrasound revealed trouble for their son Benjamin. He's just one of the miracle children WTOL 11 is shining a light on with the help of Mercy Children's Hospital and the Children's Miracle Network.
Four year-old Benjamin McCree loves to play pool with his sisters, but this playful guy has always lived with a very serious medical problem. An ultrasound revealed earlier on in Benjamin's life that his kidneys, one too big and the other too small, were covered with cysts, the same medical problem his mom Diane had also struggled with.
"I didn't know if maybe it was just something like a weak gene, that we were more susceptible to kidney damage," Diane McCree said.
As Benjamin got older, his kidney function deteriorated to just 15 percent. Doctors diagnosed him with Renal Cysts and Diabetes Syndrome, but he wasn't big enough yet for a transplant. He had to endure blood test after blood test.
"I've been in tears over it several times," Diane said. "He's just you know so little and it's all he knows. He's done it since birth. But for us, it just hurts me that he has to go through that, you know?"
"It's tough to have to sit back and watch him go through something like that and know there's nothing you can really do about it," said Benjamin's father, Dennis.
A close family friend and Dennis were both tested, but neither was a match. Then, in September, Benjamin was put on a waiting list, which meant Benjamin, mom, dad, and their twin five-year-old daughters Remy and Quinn had to have their bags packed and be ready to leave for Cincinnati Children's Hospital at any moment.
Benjamin's doctor in at Mercy Children's Hospital in Toledo was Ridwan Tarabishi, a specialist in Pediatric Nephrology.
"His doctor was always great at Mercy Children's. He was always very positive that if he got to that point, that we would get a transplant," Diane said.
In December, Diane got the call. She woke up her husband.
"She was asking if we should say 'yes' to do this and I said 'oh there's no question,'" Dennis said. "This is the time. We need to do this now. And it turned out to be the perfect time."
"Even just to call my mom, I was pretty much an emotional mess and had to calm myself down," Diane said.
They drove to Cincinnati and the next day, Dec. 1, was Benjamin's surgery. He was wheeled to the operating room.
"I would tell him the doctors are going to make a cut in your tummy and give you a new kidney," Diane said.
Benjamin made it through the surgery and was back to smiling again. He received an adult kidney and one of his own kidneys was removed.
Five months later, Benjamin has recovered and has a bright future ahead of him.
He has to be careful with future sports activities, since the kidney was transplanted in front of the remaining one. There will be no football or martial arts in his future, but they are hoping he will be able to play basketball or baseball.
"His kidney levels are all perfect. I just actually spoke with his nurse today and she's like 'yep everything is perfect.' His creatinine, which is the main thing they look at as far as kidney function, is perfect," Diane said.
"I think it's only going to make him a better person," Dennis said. "He's going to understand what it is to have to fight to get things. To get places that somebody else might not have trouble getting."
The McCrees want you to know how important it is to watch the Children's Miracle Network telethon on April 12 and make a donation.
"I mean how could you look at this little face and not want to help? It's just a great hospital, great foundation to help, definitely," Diane said.
Don't miss the Children's Miracle Network Telethon on April 12 on WTOL. Benjamin and his family will make a "live" appearance.