Naperville boy receives lifesaving transplant from dad’s long lost classmate

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CHICAGO -- A long lost friend came to the rescue for a Naperville family who says now they can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

2-year-old Miles Wagner is, to quote his doctor, “One in million,” not only because of his great personality, but because of a rare disease that affects one in a million people in the population.

In short, Miles’s liver wasn’t functioning properly and at 8 weeks old he experienced kidney failure that forced him to have dialysis 5 or 6 days a week.

“I think our story is complicated by the fact that Ryan was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer about a week after we found out we were expecting Miles,” said Ashley Wagner, Miles’s mother.  “So our lives for the last three years have really been focused on chemotherapy for Ryan and dialysis for Miles.”

A year ago Miles had a liver transplant and then yesterday he received a kidney from a high school classmate of his father’s, Liz Wolodkiewicz.

Liz hadn`t kept in contact with Ashley and Ryan over the years.  In fact, she first learned about Ryan’s cancer diagnosis on Facebook.  Then came word of Miles disease and a plea from his mother for a donor.

“Two things stuck out to me,” Liz said. “One, that I’m his exact blood type and the second was her question, 'Is it on your bucket list to save life?’ And I thought that should be on everyone`s bucket list.  How great of a chance to be able to do it.”

But as Miles’s health struggles appears to be over, his father’s are increasing.  The cancer is spreading.  And after 71 rounds of chemo the prognosis is uncertain.  But he says finds strength in his son.

“He is just so happy with everything that he does that it would almost make me feel guilty to not have the same kind of happiness even though I going thru my struggles,” Ryan said.

His mother says the one word that sums up how they feel is gratitude.

“It’s the gift of life and to be on the receiving end of it, not once but twice, it`s truly humbling,” Ashley said.  “So organ donations save lives and so we are truly, truly, grateful for it.”

Liz, the donor was released from the hospital today.  Miles will have to stay for another two weeks.  But aside from taking anti-rejection drugs for the rest of his life, he’s expected to lead a normal life.

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