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One Of HUMC's Youngest Kidney Transplant Recipients Ever Readies For Pre-K

Dr. Kenneth Lieberman, M.D., chief of Pediatric Nephrology at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at HUMC with Kyle.
Dr. Kenneth Lieberman, M.D., chief of Pediatric Nephrology at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at HUMC with Kyle. Photo Credit: COURTESY: HUMC

HACKENSACK, N.J. -- When Marianny Hilario of Paterson was pregnant, her doctor told her there was a problem with her unborn son. The physician "recognized that his kidneys weren’t forming as they should,” she said.

Born at 37 weeks, Kyle Lugo spent three months in neo-natal intensive care.

Just weeks ago, he became one of the youngest patients ever to undergo a kidney transplant at Hackensack University Medical Center.

When Kyle was a year old, he was referred to Dr. Kenneth Lieberman, chief of Pediatric Nephrology at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack Meridian Health HUMC.

“Kyle was born with a blockage in his urinary tract,” Lieberman said. “It’s the most common cause of renal disease in infant boys.

"Because his bladder couldn’t empty normally, the urine would back up into his kidneys and caused the kidneys to be damaged," the specialist said "As a result, his kidneys developed scarring and his kidney function continued to deteriorate.”

Lieberman treated Kyle for kidney failure, which included supplemental feedings through a tube in his stomach, special diets and medications.

Over time, though, Kyle’s kidneys continued to deteriorate. The next step was a kidney transplant or dialysis.

“It’s very difficult to dialyze children because of their small size," said Dr. Michael J. Goldstein, HUMC's director Pediatric Abdominal Transplantation and Pancreas Transplantation, Division of Organ Transplantation. "The best treatment is transplant.”

There were no potential living transplant donors, though.

Six months ago, Kyle was placed on a kidney transplant waiting list.

Two days before Christmas, his mother’s prayers were answered.

“I could not have been any happier to hear that news,” she said. “To me Dr. Lieberman is an angel. When we got the call that Kyle was getting a kidney, he was here all day with us.”

Kyle, who didn't have to undergo dialysis, got the transplant on Christmas Eve.

“Everything went better than could possibly be expected," Goldstein said. "Kyle received an adolescent kidney and the operation took four hours to complete.

" He was discharged four days after the surgery, which is earlier than expected. The kidney worked right away. And Kyle began eating again, which he had not done for some time.”

Over the last two years, Kyle has been under the care of several specialists, including those in pediatric nephrology, transplant surgery, pediatric cardiology, pediatric infectious disease, pediatric urology, pediatric feeding specialists, pediatric physical therapy, occupational therapy and orthopedics and speech and language development specialists.

Six weeks after the surgery, Hilario said, her son has already had a growth spurt. His shoe size increased two sizes and his skin tone has changed completely.

And, that’s not all.

“He’s now active, all day and full of energy. He doesn't stop," said the proud mother, 27. "And nothing bothers him. It’s amazing how much better he feels now.”

Kyle will remain under follow-up care and will see a doctor weekly for three months. He will then see the doctor on a monthly basis for the next year.

He'll also likely need some physical and occupational rehabilitation to get him ready for the next big step in his life: pre-school.

Hilario was filling out the necessary paperwork to get him ready.

“To see a child who I met two years ago, who was in the midst of such great difficulties and we carried him through some really rough times, and now to have normal kidney function is so gratifying,” Dr. Lieberman said. “Now to have this kind of success and to see his future really turn much brighter -- there is just nothing like it.”

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