Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Fri, March 28 2014 at 6:01 PM, Updated: Mon, March 31 2014 at 10:53 AM
Medford, Ore. -- On the outside Helen Lynn, who's turning three in May, acts like any other almost three year old.
However her life is a lot different than other kids her age.
"Unfortunately Helen needs a kidney," said Helen's mom Lauren Lynn.
Lauren said her little girl somehow contracted a dangerous strain of E-coli and last September, had to be flown to Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland.
"The best way to describe it is a roller coaster. One moment we're up, one moment we're down," said Lauren as she choked up.
According to Lauren, because of the E-coli, Helen developed a disease called hemolytic uremic syndrome. It affected her kidneys, which Lauren said are working at only about 5%.
"They will never fully recover," she said.
Dealing with Helen's health
As the family starts the kidney transplant process in Portland, at home, Helen undergoes peritoneal dialysis for nine hours every night as she sleeps. The dialysis helps clean out toxins accumulating in her body.
"We had to take a week long class to learn how to operate this," said Helen's dad Byron Lynn.
Because she's lost her sense of appetite, Helen gets nearly all her food through a tube.
Add to the stress, the family said it's been difficult to find a match since Helen's blood type is O-positive.
"She is a universal donor, but she isn't not a universal receive," said Lauren.
Cancer survivor and family friend paying it forward
To help them cope, a family friend -- who is recently cervical cancer free -- is paying it forward.
"My surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments would not have been nearly as tolerable without all the love and support I received," said family friend and lead fundraiser Dana Schallheim.
Teaming up with a national non-profit
Schallheim teamed up with the Children's Organ Transplant Association (COTA), a national non-profit to raise money for Helen. All the money will go to Helen's medical costs over the span of her life.
"We raised $4500 as of this morning," Schallheim said.
However that's a drop in the bucket compared to the medical costs Helen will have throughout the rest of her life. The goal is to raise $75,000. While the family does have insurance, medications associated with a kidney transplant can run thousands of dollars every month and they aren't always fully covered.
In addition, Lauren said if they're lucky a kidney will last about 20 years. That means Helen may have between three to four transplants in her lifetime.
In the midst of trials, feeling blessed
"It's kind of twisted, but in some ways we are more blessed now than we've ever been," said Lauren teary-eyed about the support she's received.
Hers, is a family thrown into a terrible situation, but finding strength in the community, friends and each other.
How you can help
All the Yogurt Huts in the Rogue Valley will donate a portion of their sales coming up from May 3rd-31st.
Just mention Helen's name at the register.
Community members who want to help Helen Lynn can visit her COTA fundraising page or her Facebook page for more information. The links are below.
COTA fundraising page:
Helen's Facebook page:
Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.
Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.
Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.
Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.