SALT LAKE CITY – The Kurt Oscarson Children’s Organ Transplant Fund provides financial support for children who need a transplant through an interest-free loan, and two Utah families grateful for the help recently shared their stories.
The program is funded from donations on the Utah state income tax form, and it’s helping children secure a new lease on life.
These days little Madeline looks like a normal toddler, but at 2 months old she was diagnosed with a rare liver and bile duct disease and had to have a surgical procedure called Kasai–a stopgap until an organ is available.
“The hope is that, by doing so, the liver will regenerate enough that you will postpone the need for a transplant," said Amanda Butz, Madeline's mother. “Sometimes it works really well, and sometimes you only get a few months.”
Evan Kraaima, 13, was also diagnosed with the same disease and needed a transplant.
“Finally he was having enough heart and lung issues that they decided it was time when he was nine to start to get him on the transplant list," said Haley Kraaima, Evan's mom. "...the wait, it was really hard, but, again, we know people wait longer, and we were actually really blessed to get it in only five months.”
Little Madeline also got a liver transplant, but those surgeries cost money—even with insurance.
“I think we figured out that a week in the hospital was around $30,000," Butz said. "It’s not cheap by any means."
Both families got help with hospital bills from the Kurt Oscarson fund.
“After Madeline was approved to receive the fund, then I think we got more information about, 'Oh this money comes from donations from the community,' and at that point it was like, ‘Oh, well, then we want to support this, we want to promote it because it was so beneficial to us,'" Butz said.
Today, thanks to organ donation, Madeline is a curious toddler, and Evan is dreaming of a bright future.
“Now that I've had my transplant, I've always wanted to do different things," Evan said. "One day I would want to be in the military, the next day I would want to be a super hero or something."
You can be a hero and help children and teens who need a transplant in two ways: Say yes to organ donation on your driver’s license or state ID card, and donate to the Kurt Oscarson fund on your state income tax form.