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Jasmine "Jazzy" Brunton listens to her dad, Jeremy, talk about donating his kidney to her. "I would do it all over again," said the Ellenburg Center man. "It's worth it."

Sitting on the couch with her dad, Jasmine "Jazzy" Brunton couldn't have been happier.

A bubbly 8-year-old, Jazzy was ecstatic to be home.

A week earlier, she'd had transplant surgery in Boston, an operation that gave her a working kidney.

What made it even more special was that the kidney was from her dad, Jeremy Brunton.

"I was really lucky that we matched," he said, looking down at Jazzy.

Looking up at him, she giggled.

HEALTH ISSUES

Jazzy was born with a partially enlarged heart and only one working kidney.

When she was a year old, she had open-heart surgery in Boston.

And when her bladder — already too small — refluxed and ruined her one working kidney, she and her family had to adjust to intense lifestyle changes.

She had more surgery. Her bladder was reconstructed to make it larger, though it still can't contract.

Her kidney, only working at 25 percent, was taken out.

And in March, Jazzy made the difficult transition to dialysis.

Traveling to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington three times a week for three-and-a-half-hour treatments was taxing on the Brunton family.

"(Those were) long days," Jeremy remembered.

But, in May, tests showed he could give one of his kidneys to his daughter.

MATCH PROCESS

Finding a match isn't a walk in the park.

According the American Association of Kidney Patients, matches are made by looking at three areas: blood type, tissue and cross matching — a process where cells of both the donor and recipient are mixed to see if the recipient's body would attempt to reject the kidney.

And finding a match in the family isn't as common as one might think.

But the Bruntons were lucky.

"They are very picky," says Tonya, Jazzy's mom. "You have to be in perfect health. You have to have nothing wrong with you."

Jeremy began a series of testing about a year ago in Burlington for the possible transplant.

After three or four periods of testing, doctors told the Bruntons that the surgery was possible. In part, that was because when Jazzy's kidney was taken out, her heart got worse.

"Burlington didn't feel comfortable doing (the surgery)," Jeremy recalled. "So they sent us to Boston."

FAMILIAR CITY

In early October, Jeremy began the same series of testing for Boston doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

"Basically, we had to do all the steps all over again ... Most of it, (the doctors) want to do themselves," Jeremy said.

The surgeries were scheduled for Oct. 27.

"Everything went really well," he said.

The family spent a substantial amount of time in Boston hospitals for tests and the surgery. Tonya said they were even there for all three of their birthdays.

Jazzy was released on Tonya's birthday, a gift that, her mom agreed, was more than she could have asked for.

A HAPPY RECIPIENT

Jazzy wasn't the least bit nervous about the surgery.

"She couldn't wait," Jeremy said, smiling at her.

When Jazzy came out of surgery, Tonya said with tears in her eyes, the little girl looked at her and said, "'Mama, I told you I'd make it through it."

And Jazzy, Jeremy said, was excited when she knew she had a working kidney.

Best of all, she could eat the foods she loved, like mashed potatoes and hotdogs, which she had previously had to limit because they are high in potassium.

"She said she loved her kidney," her father said.

COMMUNITY HELP

While the Bruntons were going through weeks of tests and surgery, the Ellenburg community was doing its part at home.

Schools held fundraisers, including Northern Adirondack Central, where Jazzy is a second-grader.

"We've been very thankful (because) a lot of people have donated stuff to us," Jeremy says.

Jazzy will head back to school in two to three months, once her immune system builds back up and her trips to Boston and Burlington for biweekly checkups start to wind down.

Melissa Curran, a registered nurse assigned to check up on Jazzy from the Clinton County Health Department, will visit the Brunton home to make sure everything is running smoothly.

"We just want to make sure she doesn't have rejection issues (or other complications)," Curran said.

"It was all worth it," Jeremy said. "We're really thankful."

He would do it again for his daughter if he needed to.

"She's a top-notch girl," Curran said.

Jazzy posed for a photo. Everyone laughed.

And her dad made a prediction.

"I think Jazzy's going to be a lot happier."

Email Rebecca Webster at: rwebster@pressrepublican.com

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