Bailey was was born three weeks premature and was just 4 hours old when she arrived in Iowa City at University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. She was diagnosed with Infantile Polycystic Kidney Disease—her lungs were very tiny because her kidney was pushing on them, and she was given a 50% chance to live.
“I remember being absolutely terrified, I just wanted us to be home as a family.” — Heather Tickal
At first, Bailey didn’t walk, talk, crawl or eat any solid food. She was nicknamed “Monkey” because she used her feet to get around. Once she grew to 20 lbs., her grandmother donated a kidney and Bailey received her first transplant. Her new kidney worked fine, but she encountered complications with her urine.
Within 6 months, she was walking, eating and growing. For her first two and a half years, Bailey’s mom Heather slept with her in a twin bed raised up high so gravity could drain Bailey’s tubing.
Bailey is currently in third grade and loves to play Mario Kart, but encounters unique struggles. She goes to school two days a week, attends Speech Therapy for her critical motor skills and also sees a tutor. But because her bladder never grew, she wears an ostomy bag and has a hard time socially fitting in.
Bailey will eventually need another kidney from a deceased adult, as well as a liver transplant from a child.
“When she is sick, I don’t want her to be anywhere else [but the Children's Hospital],” Heather said. “She knows she feels good when she gets out.”