Snohomish dad’s kidney saves son’s life

SNOHOMISH — Tim and Paige Buurstra are looking forward to a future with their 22-month-old son after two years of feeling like an interesting science project for doctors.

Doctors told the Snohomish couple they did not expect the toddler to survive kidney disease.

Isaac Buurstra was released Friday from Children’s Hospital in Seattle after undergoing a kidney transplant in late November. The toddler received the life-saving organ from his father. For almost two years the boy had survived by being hooked to a dialysis machine at least 12 hours a day.

Tim Buurstra, a Boeing engineer, and Paige Buurstra, a Snohomish attorney, first learned of their son’s renal problems 18 weeks into the pregnancy. They didn’t face similar problems when their daughter, Maddy, 4, was born.

“It was horrible,” Paige Buurstra said. “It’s hard to even put words to when somebody tells you your child’s going to die.”

After hearing she may only have a few hours with her son alive if she made it through pregnancy, some days she almost wished he would never be born, Paige Buurstra, 35, said.

“It’s going to be worse if I have two months than if he dies in utero,” she said. “People don’t really say that out loud.”

Still, the couple remained hopeful and Isaac was born Feb. 6, 2012.

“It was a very tense moment when they pulled him out,” Tim Buurstra, also 35, said. “It was this question of if he was going to scream, which means he’s breathing.”

Relief came when Isaac began to cry a few moments after birth. But that just marked the beginning of his struggle to survive.

“No parent regrets having their child, no matter how difficult it gets,” Paige Buurstra said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen but you’ll never regret having a child and any amount of time.”

Isaac underwent three major surgeries in his first three months of life. He has landed in the hospital nine times before his second birthday.

With the success of his recent transplant surgery, Isaac finally has a chance at a relatively normal childhood.

“That was the moment I was like ahhh,” Paige Buurstra said. “It really was a miracle.”

The couple is anticipating several more hospitalizations for their son. Their hopes for his future remain limitless.

“We’re not doing this alone. That’s the amazing thing,” Paige Buurstra said. “We have a whole community standing behind us.”

People are helping raise money for the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, which helps families like the Buurstras pay for medical expenses. So far, COTA has raised $48,000 of the $75,000 goal it set with Isaac in mind.

With the transplant behind them, the Buurstras said, they plan to focus on making healthy choices for their entire family and spending more time with their daughter.

“As hard as it has been, there have been great things that have come out of this in the way we view life,” Paige Buurstra said.

“We’ve never looked back, we don’t regret a moment,” Tim Buurstra added.

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192;

How to help

To support the Children’s Organ Transplant Association campaign to raise funds for families like the Buurstras:


Donation Drop-Off Site: Weed Patch store at 814 238th St. SE, Suite A at Country Village in Bothell

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