Healthy Kids Summer 2022



Kidney donation created an unbreakable bond between these San Diego siblings

A household accident that landed Cesar Zuniga in the hospital in 2019 likely saved his life. A routine blood test run during assessment of an elbow injury indicated that the 20-year-old’s immune system had been attacking his kidneys to the point they were failing. He’d been feeling more tired than usual, but in the absence of any extreme symptoms, he thought nothing of it. Cesar had no way of knowing he was about to embark on a life-changing journey.

free diet and no more than two bottles of water per day. He also needed nightly eight-hour-long dialysis sessions, meaning he was largely immobilized for a third of the day. “My family would watch movies in the living room, and I wouldn’t be able to go unless I was connected in the living room. But if I was connected in the living room, I would have to sleep there,” he says.

“The way I found out was pretty funny,” he says. “Running down the hall here at my house, I actually hit my elbow on the light switch and it got swollen. I went to the ER and they drew blood and that’s when they told me my kidneys weren’t working.” Cesar was diagnosed with acute renal failure. He was blindsided. As the news sunk in, confusion turned to fear. The next several months were filled with doctor’s appointments, a special salt-


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