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‘Miracle boy’ doing well after kidney transplant

November 11, 2013 8:00 am  •  By Julie Blum / Comments

SHELBY — Steven Blohm Jr. received a life-changing birthday present.

Just a day before his third birthday, the boy was in the hospital being prepped for a kidney transplant. His mother, Penny Blohm, was there, too, as she was his donor.

Steven’s kidneys never worked properly, and he was on dialysis since he was born. A transplant was on the horizon, but it had to wait until the boy was ready for the surgery.

Shortly after the surgery, Steven Jr. went home. Since then, he has been what his mom calls a “joyful, happy and always smiling” child.

“We call him our miracle boy,” Penny said.

He does seem like a medical marvel because of all he has been through in his young life, but his parents were always hopeful this is how it would turn out. Doctors got on board after some initially told the couple it was unlikely their son would survive after he was born.

“We were basically told I would carry him to term and then he would die at birth,” Penny said. “We had a lot of people praying for him and a lot of good doctors, too. They have to tell you the odds, and then you have to make the decision.”

The decision she and her husband made was to give Steven Jr. every possible chance to live.

When Penny was 17 weeks pregnant with Steven Jr., the third child for her and husband Steven, it was discovered he had a hole in his heart that was going to need repairing at birth. When she was five months into the pregnancy, Steven Jr. was no longer urinating. To help drain fluid, Penny was flown to California when she was 23 weeks pregnant to see a fetal surgeon, who put shunts into Steven Jr. during an in utero surgery.

The shunts worked well for a week and a-half, but his kidneys were so damaged they failed.

“We knew once they failed he would need a transplant,” Penny said.

She delivered Steven Jr. in Lincoln. After his birth, he was put on a ventilator because of poor lung development, but showed signs of being a fighter.

Within two days, he was off the ventilator, and the hole in his heart had healed on its own. Doctors also found, contrary to their belief, that Steven Jr. had a bladder. Because the organ hadn’t been used because of his kidney problems, it was very small.

Penny spent the first few months of her son’s life traveling from Shelby to Omaha, where he was later moved, to be with him during the day. At night, she would go home to spend time with her daughters, Sierra, 17, and Alyssa, 12, and her husband, who works for Coca Cola Co.

There were moments of great concern, especially when Steven Jr.’s heart stopped four times when he was 3 weeks old. That problem was alleviated with blood pressure medication.

When Steven Jr. was about to turn 3, he and Penny went in for the surgery.

“It worked perfectly,” Penny said of the operation that included replacing both of her son’s kidneys with one of hers.

Both mother and son have recuperated. Steven Jr. still is being tube fed, which started when he was born, but is transitioning to oral feedings. He also is on a strict medication schedule and has follow-up visits with doctors in Kansas City, Mo., once a month and must travel to David City to have his blood drawn.

Penny said the family has had tremendous support from relatives, friends and the community. That help, along with a strong faith, has aided the family in their journey.

“All we can attribute it to is our faith in Jesus. He worked through the doctors and the nurses,” Penny said.

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