A father's gift of new life

Nick Bogner and his daughter, Cassidy.

Father’s Day is Sunday, a day to celebrate dads, and one dad to celebrate is Nick Bogner, of Aledo, who gave his daughter Cassidy her childhood back after donating his kidney to her.

Cassidy, 17, was born with CHARGE syndrome that affected her organs, including her kidney and heart. Cassidy has already had three heart surgeries and through her father’s match, she was able to get her kidney transplant on May 20. 

“It was one of the best experiences of my life for sure, no doubt about it. We’ve been fighting and fighting with her through all these different things she’s had to deal with and it’s just that sense of a step forward that makes it so fulfilling,” Nick said. “Every father wants their kid to live a fulfilling life and to be healthy and to feel good. I wanted to give her a kidney that would last the maximum length for her life, so that’s what I was giving her, and she wanted to be a kid, so we’ve given her a better chance of just being able to be a kid because some of that has been taken from her over the years.”

Nick said he is now about 90 to 95 percent recovered and Cassidy is still going to the hospital three times a week for blood tests.

“Cassidy did well and when she got her blood test at the 36-hour point, it came back in the normal range and I was just on top of the world, it was amazing. But we’re watching her same blood test because it’s kind of gone up and down a couple of times and we’re not exactly sure why, so it’s a little touch and go right now,” Nick said. “Rejection from a living, related donor is uncommon in the early stages of a transplant, which is good, but not impossible. So that could be an issue, or it could just be something minor, so we’re just watching everything. It’s common to have little issues early on and hopefully it’s just the normal stuff, but you’re always a little on edge.”

A year-long campaign through the Children’s Organ Transplant Association has helped the Bogner family with fundraising efforts and family friend and COTA volunteer Jessica Dazey said they are still raising funds at this time. 

“The Bogners have been walking this path as a family with Cassidy since she was born and it’s pretty special that they are all healing and doing well — just in time for Father’s Day in the year that Nick donated a kidney to his daughter, thereby saving her life,” Dazey said. “Nick had been hoping to be Cassidy’s living donor for her whole life. The approval process to be a living donor is long and full of uncertainty.”

Nick said without his kidney, Cassidy would have had to go on dialysis and then it would have been a waiting game on receiving a kidney.

“We knew she was running out of time, so the reason we want to promote living donation is because you can’t really get a diseased kidney or other organs without being on dialysis because people on dialysis get priority because they need it more, which is a reasonable thing. So literally, if we had not had a kidney lined up, she would have been scheduled to start dialysis,” Nick said. “We would have had to search for other donors and you live this other life of always waiting for an organ.”

Nick said his wife, Renae, has been great taking care of Cassidy in making sure she gets all of her medications and stays healthy.

“You actually have to pass a test to leave the hospital with your child, so my wife has just rocked it,” Nick said. 

Nick said Cassidy’s immune system has been suppressed, so for now it’s regular check-ups and staying away from large crowds of people.

“We haven’t exited that stage where you can start meeting more infrequently and having blood tests further in between. She’s also at a high risk of being sick and she has to wear a mask, so that’s kind of a bummer, but should only last a few months. So it’s not a forever thing,” Nick said. “But it’s been really neat to just see what this might do for her in the long run. Most parents would do this, they would be willing to, but one of the cool things for me is that I was able to donate — there’s the willing and the able and you kind of have to have both. Then there’s the bond that we have now that’s pretty special and it warms my heart to know that physically, a part of me is in her now.”

For more information about Cassidy and her family, or to support them, visit COTA for Team Cassidy at www.cotaforteamcassidy.com or the Caring for Cassidy Facebook page.