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More than 50 local children hoping for kidney transplants this holiday season

Posted: 12:47 AM, Nov 17, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-17 00:47:43-05

CINCINNATI -- This Christmas, there's only one thing 8-year-old Aubree Garris wants more than an Alexa: A new kidney.

Garris and her family travel make a five-hour round trip from their Northern Kentucky home three times each week so she can sit for long sessions of dialysis at Children's Hospital. 

Of the 600 people estimated to be waiting for kidney transplants in Greater Cincinnati, 50 are around her age.

Going through dialysis eats into time they might otherwise spend playing, studying or playing with friends, and it forces many -- like Garris -- to shift their Christmas wishes from things that would be fun to the one thing that could save their life.

"It's heartbreaking when they make their list for Santa and the first thing is, 'I want a kidney,'" Children's Hospital coordinator Maria Hoffman said.

Some of these wishes get answered. Logan Wiesman, 9, received a donor kidney in 2017 after what his mother described as a "heart-wrenching" search for a match. The family ultimately found it in University of Kentucky student Karly Schmidt .

"I feel good," Logan said Friday. "I feel lucky since I don't have to go to dialysis anymore."

With help from the right stranger, Garris and other local children who lose hours to dialysis each week could say the same.

Anyone interested in becoming a living kidney donor can learn more about Children's Hospital's program  or find more general information about the process through the National Kidney Foundation .