Meet Emma

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Emma Russell is a beautiful 2-year-old girl, born and being raised here in Omaha. She’s sweet, funny, imaginative, and, at times, even a little sassy. In fact, Emma is no different than any other toddler girl from the great state of Nebraska—she likes to play, laugh, dance and climb. Her favorite colors are yellow and pink and she loves bananas (or as she calls them: “bananananas”).

You wouldn’t know it by looking at her, but Emma has Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD).

When Emma’s mommy, Jennifer, was pregnant and in her third trimester, she went to her 35 week OB checkup and that’s when the doctors noticed something was wrong. While it appeared at first that mom’s water had broken or that she’d been leaking amniotic fluid, it didn’t take the doctors long to realize baby Emma was in danger and she’d need to make an early appearance. Five weeks early, Emma was born the next day. And she was perfect… except for her kidneys.

Immediately after being delivered and quickly bonding with mom and dad, Emma was taken to the NICU, where Emma and her kidneys were monitored—a standard procedure for a premature infant born before 36 weeks. But the next day, an ultrasound revealed cysts on Emma’s kidneys and she was subsequently diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD).

PKD is one of the world’s most common, life-threatening genetic diseases. PKD causes fluid-filled cysts to grow on the kidneys affecting kidney function and often leading to kidney failure and death. A relatively rare form of PKD (autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease, ARPKD) affects 1 in 20,000 children and often causes death in the first month of life. There is currently no treatment or cure for PKD but there are more people than ever uniting to fight this disease. Through events like the Walk for PKD, the PKD Foundation is working to find treatments and ultimately a cure to end PKD and improve the lives of all those whom it affects.

Emma sees a pediatric nephrologist, here in Omaha, who regularly monitors the health of her kidneys and the progression of her PKD. Because of the disease, in addition to normal toddler well visits, Emma must also endure blood and urine tests as well as abdominal and renal ultrasounds. And, in between visits, Emma’s parents work hard to keep Emma as healthy and happy as possible by watching her blood pressure and by helping her meet her nutrition needs.

Emma’s mom and dad are determined to help find a cure and effective treatments for Polycystic Kidney Disease. Like all good parents, they love their daughter immensely and can’t stand to see her suffer. They want her to have a better life. As a result, they have partnered with the PKD Foundation, a national non-profit organization which funds PKD research and education. In the spring of 2013, Jennifer accepted the roll of PKD Walk Coordinator (Nebraska Chapter).

Your donation will help millions of people worldwide who have Polycystic Kidney Disease, many of whom live right here in our community. It will promote awareness and it will help fund research and education which will someday put a treatment and cure within reach.

Most importantly, your donation will help children like Emma.

Please donate. With your support, we can take steps toward a future without PKD.

To donate to my Walk for PKD, please go to: http://walkforpkd.kintera.org/nebraska/valzane

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