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Our Story

Keona Shearer, aka Keke, was born on May 19th 2004, alongside her twin sister Elliona.  Heart breaking news came fast as we found out her sister Elliona had a heart defect and was rushed away to the ICU and then sent to St. Vincent's hospital. After two open heart surgeries, her sister passed away at 3 months old. Keona survived only to get severely sick at 8 months old. Her getting sick caused severe damage to both her kidneys. We were rushed to Riley's Children Hospital Where we spent the next 3 months waiting for Keona to get better, but she never fully recovered. We were trained to do Peritoneal Dialysis at home and had to schedule our lives around her treatments 4 times a day. The one thing that kept us going each and every day was Keke waking up every morning with the biggest smile and bright blue eyes staring at us with pure love and happiness. We knew we had a special daughter! Going through every doctor visit, every blood draw, every needle stick, and every surgery, she would always come to us with a smile on her face -- just happy to be here with her family. 

      At age 5 her body couldn't keep up with her damaged kidneys and it was time to do her 1st transplant. Her father Justin was a match and wanted to be the first to donate. Dec. 1st 2009, Keona received her 1st kidney transplant from her dad. The new transplant changed her life increasing her health, her growth and the ability to have a lot more freedom. The transplant gave her the ability to focus on school, friends and fun. It gave her the ability to be normal again. Over the years still having monthly visits to Riley hospital doing labs, shots and scans. She made every day fun always bringing smiles to the nurses' and doctors' faces and letting other kids like her know that everything is going to be OK. 

       December 2017 her transplanted kidney started to fail! We retrained on how to do dialysis at home, this time using a night cycler. Every single night for 9 hours she is hooked up to a machine at night flushing her body of toxins keeping her healthy and alive, but giving up freedom once again. She can no longer have sleepovers at friends houses, go to normal camps like other kids, go to bed whenever she wants -- every day is a set schedule revolving around being hooked to a machine at night. As her dad, some of my best moments in life have been spent talking with her and laughing with her as we prepare to hook up at night. Every night is a blessing that she is alive happy and healthy.

For a while, we thought Keke had a compatible kidney donor ready to provide that life-giving organ to her, but that hope recently evaporated. While this is devastating news for our entire family and for all of Keke’s friends, we have faith that God will continue to provide for her, as He has in the past. In spite of this temporary setback, we are continuing to make preparations for a Kidney for Keona.

The Children's Organ Transplant Association (COTA) helps children and young adults who need a life-saving transplant by providing fundraising assistance and family support. COTA is the nation’s only fundraising organization solely dedicated to raising life-saving dollars in honor of transplant-needy children and young adults. 100% of each contribution made to COTA in honor of our patients helps meet transplant-related expenses. COTA’s services are free to our families, and gifts to COTA are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

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