SPARTA, Mich-- The apprehension that comes with waiting for a life-saving organ transplant is hard to describe, but for 9-year-old Lyndi Hollinger in Sparta, the wait is finally over. She received her new kidney on December 20, 2016, a Christmas gift she'll never forget.
FOX 17 has been following Lyndi's story for years now. You may remember that in 2014 a rare disease caused Lyndi's kidneys to fail and forced her onto dialysis every night for 10 hours straight.
Lyndi calls the new kidney her "Kiwi."
Lyndi's family says the new kidney is functioning as it should, though Lyndi has experienced some minor setbacks, she isn't letting anyone or anything get in the way of doing the things she loves, like riding her horse, Sammy.
"I was very emotional, because I didn’t know what I was going have to do, what it was gonna be like," Lyndi said.
Lyndi's family was ready for life to get closer to some degree of normal. "With being tied to dialysis and everything, I mean, we were ready," said Lyndi's dad, Gy Hollinger. "We all know Lyndi was ready to be done."
Now, the closet that was once packed full with medical supplies is finally filling up with clothes, Lyndi is heading back to school, getting used to a normal life.
"I’m really, really happy," Lyndi said. "My class isn’t finished without me, I always bring joy to the class."
But Lyndi's parents are cautious: they say she isn't out of the woods yet. Lyndi had a relapse, meaning the focal segmental glomerulosclerosis is back. FSGS is a rare disease that attacks the kidneys' filtering ability, eventually causing scarring.
Doctors fear the disease will ruin Lyndi's new kidney, like it did the last.
"All in all, we wouldn’t change this," Lyndi's mom, Tressa, said. "Even though the disease has come back, we wouldn’t change it, because she has a much better life off dialysis."
Though Lyndi isn't at 100 percent, she is slowly beginning to feel how a 9-year-old should feel. She is starting to get back to doing the things she loves, especially when it comes to riding her horse.
"It's not a journey we chose," Tressa said, "but we’re happy to go along and bring the awareness so any other kids that get diagnosed will have a better life."
Though Lyndi is off dialysis, she spends her mornings getting her plasma removed and replaced. Some doctors believe the FSGS is living in Lyndi's plasma, and they hope this process will cure the disease.
Lyndi says she might need another new kidney in 20 years.
"We're prepared if we have to," Lyndi said.