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TOWN AND COUNTRY, Mo. – Kebra Peebles is all smiles now but that wasn’t always the case. A rare kidney condition led to her undergoing dialysis and eventually receiving two kidney transplants at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.

“Dialysis itself is so grueling,” Peebles said.

Doctors said it was possible she would not survive birth due to her condition, but Peebles was determined not to terminate two pregnancies. Little did she know that her son would years later donate his own kidney to help save her life.

“I would just like to publicly thank my son for giving me life,” Peebles said. She underwent the transplant in 2020 after her previous transplant lasted 14 years.

“I started having complications, but it gave me 14 years of a wonderful life,” Peebles said.

Kendall Henderson was 18 when he began to think about donating his kidney. He approached his mother with the idea.

“She was like, ‘No,’” he said.

“I was against it because he’s my son and he’s my baby,” Peebles said.

Henderson said watching his mother undergo dialysis prompted him to learn more about organ donations and eventually decided to donate his kidney last year.

“Seeing her cry every day, I just couldn’t see her like that,” he said.

“I feel great now,” said Peebles. “I feel like new person.”

Dr. Krista Lentine is a kidney physician and the medical director of living donation at SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital. She said living donors often lead to better outcomes for patients.

“Living donors can help bridge the gap between the need for organs and the organ supply,” Lentine said.

She said there are more than 91,000 kidney persons awaiting a transplant in the United States. She said that number includes 1,400 persons in Missouri with many of those persons living in the St. Louis area.

Lenite said a recent expansion of a federal program reduces the financial burden for living donors. She encourages anyone seeking more information to visit SSM Health’s Transplant Services online.

“Learn more about it and don’t just say no,” said Henderson. “Try to get more information.”