Shawn-Brooklyn Young
West Des Moines, Iowa

Shawn-Brooklyn Young is your typical child: active, curious, and with a vocabulary that’s expanding by the day. He loves to wrestle with his big brother, Taeshawn, and why walk when you can run, right? But, until Shawn-Brooklyn received a kidney transplant in October 2010 at University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, his life was very different.

The transplant was the end of a long journey that started in February 2009 when then-8-month-old Shawn-Brooklyn contracted bacterial meningitis. He survived the disease but was left with permanent damage to his kidneys. After spending almost three months in a Des Moines hospital, his parents, Cassondra and Shawn, brought him to UI Children’s Hospital, the only facility in the state that offers pediatric dialysis. In Iowa City, they learned how to give him dialysis at home.

“It was good to be able to take care of our son at home,” says Cassondra, “although he was in and out of the hospital with related health issues.” The family was impressed with UI Children’s Hospital. “Everyone is wonderful. I never felt like my son was just another patient,” says Cassondra. Adds Shawn, “The caring doctors and nurses here go above and beyond what’s expected.”

About a year later, Shawn-Brooklyn’s parents got the call from surgeons at UI Children’s Hospital. There was a kidney available for their son. “It was scary to send him into surgery, but we wanted him to have a chance to live a normal life,” says Cassondra. He spent about a month in the hospital after his transplant. Since then, he’s been “a whole new person,” she says.

“This transplant has allowed him to finally be a child. He has the energy to run and play with his brother. Not having dialysis every night means he can have overnights at his grandma’s house. He can take a real bath and even go swimming,” Cassondra says. “He can do all those things that he wasn’t able to do before.”

Even though Shawn-Brooklyn needs some additional help to catch up developmentally, Cassondra and Shawn feel lucky that their son had such outstanding medical care. In fact, the experience so inspired Cassondra that she went back to school to study nursing.

“It was great to watch all of the doctors and nurses work so hard every day to keep my son moving forward. A few nurses and social workers even went out of their way to make sure I was taking care of myself,” she adds.

Shawn agrees. “There aren’t enough words to thank the doctors and nurses at UI Children’s Hospital for giving us back our son.”