By Seth Gonzales
The Texas Catholic
As his family endured perhaps the most difficult period in their young lives, Aaron Hall made what he called the easiest decision in his life. He became his daughter’s kidney donor.
Aaron’s 11-year-old daughter, Nicole is a student at St. Paul Catholic School in Richardson and suffers from a rare genetic metabolic disease called cystinosis, whereby the body produces an excess amount of the amino acid cystine which slowly damages the body’s tissues and organs.
In the spring of 2016, Nicole’s kidneys had regressed to a point where she would soon need a transplant. Both Aaron and his wife Stephanie were tested and found to be acceptable matches. Initially, Stephanie was to be Nicole’s donor, but a number of roadblocks ensued and Aaron stepped in.
Time was of the essence. By December 2016, the decision had been made and the transplant was scheduled for March 2017 at Medical City Dallas hospital. In preparation for the surgery, Aaron said, doctors routinely reminded him of the risks inherent in transplant surgery. None of that fazed Aaron.
“When I would go to the appointments for myself, I was a patient and a parent,” Aaron said. “But in my brain I was 95 percent parent. The doctor couldn’t have told me anything that would change my mind.”
Aaron and his daughter underwent successful transplant surgery on March 14. When Aaron awoke, Stephanie said, he was cracking jokes.
“Even though he was in a lot of pain, he still had a sense of humor,” she said. “He knew what he was doing was for the sake of our child.”
Nicole was readmitted one month later to remove her last native kidney, which was placing too much stress on the transplanted kidney. Nearly three months later, Nicole’s health has dramatically improved.
“It’s like we brought home a new kid,” Aaron said. “She just has a lot more energy and a life in her eyes that we haven’t seen in so long.”
As the Hall family, which also includes 10-year-old daughter Angie, celebrates a special Father’s Day on June 18, Aaron said he was grateful to have played a major role in changing Nicole’s life for the better.
“The surgery wasn’t fun, but if I had two kidneys again I would certainly give her another one in a heartbeat,” Aaron said. “It’s a gift that I no longer have claim to. It’s absolutely enhancing her life.”
It took four to six weeks for Aaron’s own health to return to normal. He has since resumed running and even participates in cross fit exercises. But his favorite activity might be playing with both of his daughters, one of whom is especially grateful for the gift of life from her father.
“He’s not just their dad, he’s their biggest playmate,” Stephanie said. “He’s a beautiful father.”