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Ambrose Day-Beadeau has a great life: The 18-year-old is finishing his last year of high school; he works a part-time job at the local Goodwill and, as a member of the Oneida nation, he enjoys traveling with his family every weekend to pow wows across the United States.
So, when he faced the prospect of having to undergo dialysis for his kidney failure, he had no desire to interrupt his life.
“He told us, ‘Whatever time I have left on earth, I just want to enjoy it with my brothers,’” said his mom, Josephine Webster. “If a donor kidney didn’t become available for him to have a kidney transplant, we had to respect his wishes and not force him to go on dialysis.”
The family waited for a miracle. People in their tribe volunteered to donate a kidney to Ambrose, but none passed the living donor screening process. At the time, Ambrose was on the wait list at a different Wisconsin hospital. “We waited a good four years on that list, and nothing happened,” Josephine said. “It was very discouraging.”
She started researching and learned a transplant patient could get his name on the wait list at more than one hospital. Ambrose and his family reached out to UW Health in Madison, Wisconsin. Just 28 days after getting his name on the list in Madison, a deceased donor kidney became available for him. He received the gift of life at American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison on June 17, 2021. “Since the transplant, he has been so healthy,” his mom said. “Things have been going really smoothly for him.”
A lifetime of health problems
Ambrose was born with transposition of the great arteries, which is a congenital heart defect. When he was 3 days old, he went into cardiac arrest, and doctors put him on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine for three days to perform the functions of his heart and lungs. All the problems caused severe damage to his body, and he experienced kidney failure.
After three months at the hospital, Ambrose’s kidney function returned, but he had to undergo several heart surgeries, and he was still dealing with the after-effects of having a stroke when he was a month old.
While Ambrose was delayed with his growth and learning, he was able to lead a fairly normal life for the first several years. Eventually, however, it became clear that he would need a kidney transplant, so his family started the long process of trying to find a kidney for him.
Since his kidney transplant in summer 2021, Ambrose has been able to live his life to the fullest. During his junior year in high school, he was finally medically cleared to participate in gym class, which overjoyed him. “I’m feeling really good now,” he said. “I feel like a brand-new person.”
Both Ambrose and his mom are happy to have found the team at UW Health. “We were so grateful for the doctors at UW Health and everything they did for him,” she said. “They were really attentive to everything that went wrong. I knew I could call them day or night, and someone would get back to me right away.”