Young girl waits for kidney
By Denise Baran-Unland Correspondent February 19, 2013 1:08PM
Ava Zapp, 3, of Plainfield is all smiles after finishing a puzzle. Ava needs a kidney transplant. | SUBMITTED PHOTO
How to help
What: Fundraiser for Ava Zapp
When: 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday
Where: McBrides Plainfield Pub & Grill, 7162 W. Caton Farm Road, Plainfield
Etc: Raffles and 20 percent of all food and beverage sales will be donated toward Ava Zapp’s medical expenses.
Contact: McBrides at 815-609-0192
Updated: March 21, 2013 6:05AM
You’ll probably never meet a more stubborn little girl than Ava Zapp, almost 3, of Plainfield.
In Ava’s short life, she’s endured a rare congenital kidney disorder, dialysis and treatment for peritonitis three times; Ava also needs a kidney transplant.
But these troubles don’t crowd out Ava’s ability to speak clearly in complete sentences, love all things Batman (especially The Joker) and be a tomboy around her male cousins and a girly girl when playing dolls.
“She’s very smart and speaks so well, we have full conversations with her,” said Ava’s mother, Paige Zapp of Plainfield. “You can’t really tell by looking at her that anything is wrong.”
Deep inside Ava’s kidneys is another story. Ava was born with oligomeganephronia, meaning her kidneys didn’t produce enough filtering holes during her development. Paige said the average person has millions of these filtering holes in their kidneys.
“Ava’s doctor guessed she had about 600,000,” Paige said.
Nothing during Paige’s pregnancy or delivery warned her about Ava’s disorder. Because Ava’s umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck, her doctor, as a precaution, monitored her breathing in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.
When Ava still wasn’t eating the second day after her birth, the assumption was that Ava was simply a little sleepier than the average newborn, but that she’d soon catch on. That opinion was quickly replaced with alarm.
“When the nurse went to check her diaper, there was only blood in there,” Paige said.
Subsequent tests showed Ava’s kidneys were not working properly. A diuretic was tried and Ava’s lungs filled with fluid. That’s when Ava was transferred to a teaching hospital where she began dialysis, a procedure Ava will continue to need until she receives her kidney.
“She was on an inactive waiting list until she reached 22 pounds,” Paige said. “She reached that about six months ago and then they put her on an active waiting list. They said a person can live 30 years on dialysis, but it takes such a toll on your body from all the times it makes you sick.”
In the meantime, Paige and her husband, Jonathan Zapp, are hopeful that Ava’s kidney transplant will soon become a reality and are raising money to cover the costs of Ava’s post-surgical needs. That includes the cost of keeping Paige, a sales representative for Sprint in Aurora, at home to care for Ava and gas money to get Ava to and from her follow-up medical appointments.
“We live an hour and 15 minutes from the city and she’ll need to be transported back and forth three times a week,” Paige said. “No mother could work and do that. The more money we raise, the more time I can spend with her.”