JOLIET, Illinois – A suburban Chicago girl who received a kidney transplant is trying to show how much she appreciates the gift by giving back.
In the fall of 2020, Lizzie Reyes, who was 14 at the time, was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition that left her with end stage kidney disease. It came out of nowhere and nearly took her life.
“It was all so sudden what happened, and when we learned what I have, it was already too late to begin with,” Lizzie said.
She was put on dialysis until a donor could be located. Her prayers were answered when another family faced tragedy: the kidney came from a 19-year-old man from Chicago who had died.
To honor the young man, Lizzie’s family hosted a blood drive in Joliet, collecting enough to save 48 lives. A local bakery donated a kidney-shaped cake and another donated cookies for blood donors.
“We know how important blood donation is,” said Lizzie’s Mom, Stacey Reyes. “Lizzie two received blood transfusions at two separate times.”
The family plans to make the blood drive an annual event. They will also be collecting blankets for patients at Lurie Children’s Hospital, where the doctors and nurses took such good care of her when she was sick.