Brownsburg (WXIN) -- Six months after Fox 59 first met 4-year-old Bella Cruz and her mom Gia, the two are enjoying a new lease on life and serving as an inspiration to others.
Bella has been through a whole lot for just a young girl. In June, her mom Gia prepared to donate her own kidney to Bella, who was born with chronic kidney disease.
"It feels like a blessing, really, to be able to do this," Cruz said back then.
Now, six months later, Bella is practically a new little girl.
She's speaking a lot more, singing – something her mom says she rarely did before surgery – and has a ton of energy.
"She's just so much happier now," Cruz said.
Gia Cruz is doing well, too. She said that despite living with one kidney, she's never been better.
"I feel great. I am actually training for my first half marathon, something I never thought I would do," Cruz said.
She's hoping their story will serve as an inspiration to others, when they see how much a living organ donation meant to Bella and gave her new life. That message will prove especially important years from now, as Bella will likely need a new kidney again when she's about 20 years old.
"I can't say I wouldn't have done this if it wasn't my daughter and been aware of it, but I just encourage anyone who maybe knows someone out there who is looking for a kidney to consider it," Cruz said.
In related news:
New Haven, CT (WFSB) -- Six patients, six kidneys and three hospitals were all part of an unique kidney transplant chain.
Danbury native, 22-year-old Ryan DaSilva, was undergoing invasive surgeries since he was just a toddler. He received his first kidney from his mother at age of three.
Later in his life, DaSilva's brother donated a kidney in 2004. Neither transplant was successful long-term and for years, DaSilva underwent dialysis three times a week for three hours a day. DaSilva went to school and held a full-time job while undergoing the treatments.
When DaSilva needed another transplant, he asked his father, Rolando DaSilva, but he wasn't a match for his son. However, Rolando DaSilva was a match for someone in the Midwest, which ultimately lead to a chain of kidney donations.
A patient in Toledo donated a kidney to Maine. Someone in Maine donated a kidney to Yale-New Haven Hospital. The process not only saved Ryan DaSilva's life but the others involved across the country.
Currently, the entire DaSilva family has one kidney each. On Thursday afternoon, Ryan DaSilva thanked his family, his surgical team and God for allowing to stand before them after a lifetime of medical struggles.
"My whole life from two and a half years old its been transplants, being poked with needles, operation after operation, so it's a big deal for me. It's everything," said Ryan DaSilva, who got emotional at one point. "Thank you everybody. Thank you now that I can have a life. Thank you for everything."
Ryan DaSilva's experiences have influenced him so much that he currently works as a patient care technician at a nursing home and dreams to one day be a surgical technician.