Jennifer Higgs Has A Very Special Relationship With Her Younger Brother After Successful Kidney Transplant 


   At first glance, Tyler Higgs, 13, and his sister, Jennifer, appear just like any normal brother and sister. However, on January 12, 2006 , at the Ottawa General Hospital , Tyler and Jennifer took the relationship to a much higher level when one of Jennifer’s kidneys was transplanted into Tyler ’s body.

   Tyler was born with kidney failure, but the problem wasn’t discovered until he was six years of age. At that time his kidneys were functioning at only 32% capacity. It was then that doctors concluded a transplant would be needed within several years. He was placed on medication in an attempt to control the deterioration and it appeared to maintain his condition at a constant level.

   When Tyler was eight years old, Jennifer was tested to determine if she could qualify as a donor for her brother. Not only did Jennifer qualify, but she was told that the only times the medical staff had ever seen such a perfect match before was in the case of identical twins. What is even more remarkable is that Tyler was born 17 years after Jennifer; on the same day; 18 minutes apart in time; at the exact same weight and exactly the same length at birth. Perhaps coincidence? Perhaps destiny?

   Since being diagnosed with renal failure, Tyler has been traveling to Ottawa for testing and monitoring every one to three months. When his kidney functioning dropped to below 20% in December 2005, it was decided to go ahead and set a date for the transplant. That date was January 12. According to Tyler , “I was happy when they decided to do the operation. It was a relief to know that we were finally going to do it.”

   Jennifer shared the feeling, “It was like we were both going to get our life back. For five years I was on pins and needles waiting for the day the operation would take place. I knew that it could happen at any time, so I really had to put my life on hold.”

   There was never any hesitation on the part of Jennifer, herself a mother with two children aged 12 and 4. When she found out that she was a match, she simply decided that this was something she wanted to do. 

   As a result of the operation, Tyler ’s kidneys are now functioning at 67% of normal and that number is steadily increasing. He feels much healthier and finds it easier to concentrate at school. The operation has allowed him to focus on graduating from Pinecrest Public School in June and entering Confederation Secondary School in the Fall.  

   Besides allowing Tyler to get on with his life, it has also given Jennifer an opportunity to move forward as a self-employed Customer Relations Specialist, working out of the Valley East Today office at the Hanmer Valley Shopping Centre.
   Both Tyler and Jennifer went into the operation with the same faith and confidence with which they have always approached life. As they were being prepared for the operation, the medical team couldn’t believe how calm and relaxed they were. But Jennifer commented, “We had lived with the knowledge that this moment was coming for the past five years. Our decision was made and now it was in God’s hands. There was nothing for us to worry about.”  

   Tyler and Jennifer will live the rest of their lives in the same way as any normal brother and sister. But there is absolutely nothing normal about their relationship.


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