Minnesota mother donates kidney to 9-year-old son

Updated: July 11, 2019 06:28 PM

A Minnesota mother on Thursday gave the gift of life to her son for a second time.

Melissa Gottschalk donated her kidney to her 9-year-old son, Connor. Connor was born with Prune Belly Sundrome, and his kidney was failing.


After enduring multiple procedures and surgeries to help his internal organs, Thursday was kidney transplant day, and it started out with an early morning dance party at their home.

Still in his pajamas, Connor was jamming out before he and Mom had to head off to different hospitals for surgery.

A picture of the two hugging captured that emotional goodbye. Just one day earlier, Connor was running around with his brother at the park and reflecting on his mom's decision to donate her kidney to him.

"It just blows my mind that she carried me and now I'm going to carry something from her, it's just pretty crazy."

Less than 24 hours later, Connor waited in his hospital bed for surgery to begin. Melissa did the same. Her surgery started first at the University of Minnesota Fairview, on the east side of the Mississippi River.

RELATED: Mom to donate kidney to 9-year-old son

A medical courier then had to carefully and quickly drive her kidney a mile-and-a-half away, across the river, to Connor. Because he's a pediatric patient, his surgery was being done at University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital, adding another element to this transplant.

"It's a little worrisome and frightening, you hear sometimes about things happening in transport, you know, it's a vehicle on the road and anything can happen driving down the street," said Craig Gottschalk, Connor's father.

A picture sent to his phone provided some comfort. It's believed to be Melissa's kidney being walked down the hall of the hospital, leaving, heading to Connor.

Once surgery is complete, Connor moved to the ICU to be monitored, to make sure the kidney is working as it should.

The mother and son that now share more than most, could be reunited as soon as Saturday.

"You have this 9-year-old little guy who is so wise beyond his years, and just has this unique way of looking at things, and how he emotionally connects to things, and to be, hey, my mom carried me and now I'm going to carry something of hers for quite awhile, is pretty awesome," said Craig.

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Jessica Miles

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