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A father’s sacrifice

Turlock dad donates kidney to daughter

A father’s sacrifice

Les Crutcher will donate one of his kidneys to his 5-year-old daughter Isabella. The Turlock family pictured here in July 2011 (mom, Cindy Crutcher, and Cameron, now 8) has partnered with the Child...

POSTED April 13, 2012 9:59 p.m.

Turlock parents Les and Cindy Crutcher received some of the scariest news a parent could ever hear last May.
Their 4-year-old daughter Isabella Crutcher (now 5) had somehow ingested the E. coli bacteria strain and the infection developed into a condition that destroys red blood cells and led to acute kidney failure and a month and a half stay at Children's Hospital of Central California in Madera.
The source of the infection was inconclusive. Isabella has been on dialysis since the time of diagnosis and her kidneys have not improved. Her doctors at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto have recommended a life-saving kidney transplant.
After extensive testing, doctors discovered that Isabella's father, Les, would be a good match for her.
"As her father, it wasn't even a thought if I should do this or not; you don't even think about it. As soon as I was tested I said, ‘sign me up' and if I had to give her two kidneys I would," said Les.
This undertaking brings with it a whole new set of challenges: Immune suppressants, risk of rejection, the need for excess fluid intake, and biopsies.
"My only fear is that what if everything doesn't work on the other end for her. My kidney is much larger than hers and it will suck up 25 percent of the blood in her body. Aside from her immune response the concern is a loss of blood pressure," Les explained.
Along with the bad also comes the good: No more nightly peritoneal dialysis, fewer medications, no risk of infection from an abdominal catheter, and best of all - an expanded diet.
In addition to the physical challenges come the financial responsibilities. After the surgery Isabella and her family must stay in Palo Alto at Stanford University for at least 100 days. This means the Crutchers will have to pay for their own lodging, meals. Added to that Les, who works for Yosemite Farm Credit, will be unable to return to his employment for the duration of their stay.
Facing a life-long battle with medical challenges and the eminent increase of medical expenses, Isabella's family has turned to a national charity for help. The Children's Organ Transplant Association organizes and guides community volunteers in fund raising to provide for transplant-related expenses for kids like Isabella. COTA pays for expenses that insurance does not cover.
Community volunteers are raising funds for transplant patients like Isabella. COTA is asking for an estimated $100,000 to be raised to help with transplant-related expenses. As of April 11, more than $83,000 has been raised for Isabella and her family.
According to Assistant Campaign Coordinator Alison Bryson, the outpouring of support has been amazing. Isabella's campaign has received help from Kiwanis, Rotary, leaders in the ag community and an employee match program from Yosemite Farm Credit.
Les is grateful for the support.
"We are very fortunate for the support. It is an amazing feeling to know we have that many people who care - people that we don't even know. It really restores your faith in humanity," he said.
One hundred percent of all funds raised are used for patients' transplant-related expenses.
Funds will be held in an account by COTA for future use as well. The average life of a kidney through transplant is about 20 years. At only five years old it is likely Isabella will need another transplant in the future.
COTA was founded in Bloomington, Ind. in 1986 and has assisted over 1,700 families with over $60 million raised since that time. Approximately 150 families per year receive assistance annually through COTA and COTA is the only organization of its type that charges no fee for its services.
Any individual under the age of 22, as well as those patients who are older but suffer from a single-cell genetic disorder, are eligible to receive help from COTA. Once engaged, a fundraising team is organized that then recruits other volunteers. Funds raised are donations to COTA, but donated "in honor of" particular patients and funds raised are held in trust for those patients until such time as they are needed for their transplant-related expenses.
Donations in honor of Isabella may be mailed to Children's Organ Transplant Association, 2501 West COTA Dr., Bloomington, IN 47403. Checks or money orders should be made payable to COTA, with "In Honor of Isabella C" written on the memo line. Secure credit card donations are also accepted online at

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