By Corinne Murdock |
Two years ago, Phoenix Police Officer Jackie Ravelo gave one of her kidneys to her friend’s ten-year-old daughter, Lily Rios — a lifesaving measure Ravelo says she didn’t think twice about. Ravelo and Rios were only able to meet recently because of COVID-19.
“As a parent, you know, I have three daughters. And you kind of put their face to that. I can’t imagine the pain that Becky felt, and you know wanting to make things better or do something that can help her — and not being able to, that’s heartbreaking for me,” said Ravelo. “I can speak for all officers that you want to help everybody, you want to solve problems and sometimes you can’t, so to me it was simple — how could I not do this?”
Rios suffered from focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), sometimes called “focal glomerular sclerosis” or “focal nodular glomerulosclerosis,” in which scar tissue develops on the parts of kidneys that filter waste from the blood. FSGS may be caused by a variety of conditions and can lead to kidney failure; according to Kopp, her daughter’s case was aggressive and unresponsive to treatments.
Rios and Ravelo spent part of the day together, with Ravelo seating Rios inside her cop car and talking to her about her life since the surgery. Rios has been able to live a normal life since receiving Ravelo’s kidney.
“Being next to someone that almost saved my life, I start to think about how thankful I am,” said Rios.
Ravelo knew of the girl’s mom, Becky Kopp, through a recreational softball league. Kopp expressed gratitude for Ravelo’s selflessness.
“To Jackie: the gift that you gave my daughter is — I can’t express how meaningful it is, and how amazing it is, and how priceless it is. As a mother to a mother, you saved my baby,” said Kopp.
Ravelo had seen Kopp’s Facebook post after a kidney intended for her daughter was no longer a viable option. She explained that she posted to explain what was happening — it wasn’t meant to be a call to action. However, that’s how Ravelo took it.
“At exactly midnight last night, I got the call that a kidney was available for Lily. We rushed to PCH and were directly admitted. Her labs were drawn and she went to sleep. I didn’t. I couldn’t. The doctors just came in to let us know that the kidney looked great last night but has deteriorated and is no longer viable. We are being discharged. Yes, this sucks. Yes, it’s devastating to be so close yet so far away. But we are going to focus on the positives from the last 11 hours… we now know the process. I know what to do and what to expect the next time I get the call. Lily is at the top of the list. The fact that she has only been on the list for 13 days and is already getting called means we are very close. Lily is strong and healthy and ready for surgery. We will remain positive and hope for the next one. Please say a prayer for the donor. We may have lost the opportunity at this kidney but that person lost their life.”
Kopp posted an update on her daughter’s “kidneyversary.” According to Kopp, her daughter has been doing well ever since.