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Teen Meets Kidney Donor Who Saved Her Life

The moment Kassidy Thomas (right) met her kidney donor Bristol Hartlage (left...

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: The moment Kassidy Thomas (right) met her kidney donor Bristol Hartlage (left) at Rady Children's Hospital.

A 14-year-old Alpine girl who was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease met the donor who saved her life Wednesday at Rady Children's Hospital.

Kassidy Thomas anxiously waited with her parents to meet Bristol Hartlage in a garden just outside the hospital. When Hartlage arrived, Kassidy's mother, Dawn Tiglio Thomas, embraced her and burst into tears.

By Reporter Matt Hoffman

A 14-year-old Alpine girl had suffered half her life with a rare kidney disease

"It was amazing," Tiglio Thomas said after the meeting. "We never thought we’d be able to meet her because some donors don’t want to be met and we got to meet her and this day has been like a compilation of years of Kassidy going through seven different surgeries and getting her kidneys removed."

Kassidy waited for two-and-a-half years as more than 500 people were tested to be a donor. Finally, in January, Hartlage was found.

"On my end, it was very easy and very low impact in my life," Hartlage said. "I would highly recommend it, for me it’s been a positive experience."

Kassidy, who has been doing well since the transplant, said she was speechless after meeting Hartlage. "I didn’t know what to think ⁠— what to say ⁠— thank you is not enough," she said.

Kassidy had been suffering from Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis since she was seven. She was blunt was asked about her ordeal.

"It really sucked — a whole lot," Kassidy said.

Now things are getting back to normal.

"I can go swimming in my friend's pool, I can go on roller coasters, I don’t have to get hooked up early to my machine, I can stay up later, I don’t have to restrict foods," Kassidy said.

Kassidy was surrounded by friends and family throughout the entire process. Her mom is so grateful for a happy ending that she was not sure would come.

"Quite frankly if she didn’t get a kidney she would have died," Tiglio-Thomas said.

Kassidy just graduated middle school and said she is looking forward to high school.

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

A local archive space in University Heights is home to much of San Diego’s LGBTQ history. Hear what’s inside. Plus, despite a growing Latino middle class, California families face hurdles getting there; Scripps researchers take the lead in a $129 million grant for HIV vaccine research; and a teenage girl from Alpine meets the kidney donor who saved her life. ...

Aired: July 11, 2019 | Transcript

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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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