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'The light of everyone's life': 6-year-old boy from Overland Park waits for life-changing kidney transplant

Overland Park boy who battled cancer in need of kidney transplant
Posted at 5:37 AM, Apr 10, 2024

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A 6-year-old boy from Overland Park is enduring the wait for a life-changing miracle as he battles a kidney disease.

Owen Cigich was born with a kidney condition that has challenged him from the very start of his life. Despite the hardships he faces, Owen's mother, Kathleen Cigich, said he lives life to the fullest.

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“Owen is the light of everyone's life," Cigich said. "He is hilarious. He goes to his hospital appointments with pure joy. He makes everyone laugh.”

Owen was born at 36 weeks with underdeveloped lungs and kidney damage. He is currently 6 with Stage 4 end-stage renal disease, something new mothers hope they never have to endure.

“I feel like we're still living the trauma of everything from the 30-week ultrasound to just the continued news that things aren't exactly the way they should be," Cigich said.

Owen and his family have had a difficult journey. Through numerous hospital stays and treatment plans, they have been through the highs and lows of caring for his illness.

However, a kidney transplant is Owen's only viable option given his declining kidney function.

“After the kidney transplant, it'll be a whole new world for Owen," Cigich said. “I never thought we would be a family that would be waiting on a kidney.”

But receiving a kidney transplant isn't that simple. According to the National Kidney Foundation, the average wait time to find a match can be anywhere from three to five years. Cigich said only time will tell.

“We're kind of just waiting for that phone call," she said. “There's a large list of people waiting for different organs, so anybody donating to anyone besides just Owen is really saving life.”

Just when things were becoming a bit normal for Owen and his parents, during an evaluation two years ago, doctors found a tumor in his liver. Owen was diagnosed with a rare pediatric liver cancer.

“I feel like our whole parenting journey has been so different than what we ever expected," Cigich said. "We just take it day by day."

Today, Owen is cancer-free as the Cigich family awaits a miracle kidney match.

“I remember thinking at 7 days old that we weren't gonna make it too much longer. And here we are, seven years without needing the transplant. So it's a miracle in so many ways," she said.

If you are interested in being a donor for Owen, you can reach out to the University of Kansas Health Systems at 913-588-1227 and mention you are interested in being a possible kidney donor for Owen Cigich.

You can learn more about Owen's journey through his Caring Bridge website.
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