23-Year-Old Mother Donated Kidney to Save 2-Year-Old Son’s Life

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
November 21, 2018Health
23-Year-Old Mother Donated Kidney to Save 2-Year-Old Son’s Life
Jace Josephson, 2, in a file photo at the hospital. (Kidney for Jace/GoFundMe)

A 23-year-old saved her son’s life after both his kidneys failed following heart surgery.

Jace Josephson, 2, was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome soon after birth and went into cardiac arrest in August 2017. In January, he got a heart transplant.

But just weeks later, his large intestine broke open, which led to sepsis. Both his kidneys ended up failing.

His mother Akasha Josephson gave one of her kidneys to her son to save his life.

“It’s kind of a stress relief in a way,” she told the Post-Bulletin. “We know the when, how, and where it’s coming from, this time.”

The Robertsons lived in Upsala in northern Minnesota but moved to Rochester, where the Mayo Clinic is located, after their son needed intensive medical care.

Organ transplants typically last 13 to 21 years and the possibility of a rejection is lower for a family member’s donated organ versus one from a stranger.

The transplant was successful on Nov. 19, Josephson told the Daily Mail.

“I feel so relieved that I was able to do this for him. He is an amazing, positive little boy and he never stops smiling. I’m a little sore but it was only keyhole surgery,” she said.

“They put it into Jace and the kidney made urine straight away, which is amazing. He’s been through so much, it’s so hard for any toddler to be in hospital but he has an incredible spirit,” Josephson said.

She said she would be discharged on Wednesday but her son will likely remain in the hospital over Thanksgiving. She’s hopeful he will be able to spend Christmas at home.

“I’m not sure what Jace wants from Santa but I’m sure he’ll figure it out. I’m just looking forward to a Christmas at home with my family,” she said. “Jace was in hospital last year awaiting his transplant. It will be nice to have my kids together and my husband.”

Josephson told the Post-Bulletin in May that little Jace enjoys playing with his Thor and Captain America action figures, and plays with his parents, nurses, and his 4-year-old sister Lilliona.

“She’s more understanding of people who have special needs. She’s gentler than most kids. She’s a little more patient,” she said of her daughter.


According to the Centers for Disease Control, hypoplastic left heart syndrome or HLHS is a birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart.

“As the baby develops during pregnancy, the left side of the heart does not form correctly. Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is one type of congenital heart defect. Congenital means present at birth,” the agency stated.

“Because a baby with this defect needs surgery or other procedures soon after birth, HLHS is considered a critical congenital heart defect,” it said.

When a child has the condition, the left side of their heart doesn’t fully develop.

The defect prevents the left side of the heart from pumping oxygen-rich blood to the body, which it does in people without the defect. While the left side of the body pumps the blood to the body, the right side of the heart pumps oxygen-poor blood to the lungs.

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