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Vinton 5-year-old celebrates one year with stranger’s donated kidney

A 5-year-old boy from Vinton got a second chance at life thanks to a complete stranger.
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 10:28 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - One year ago, Ryker Bailey, of Vinton, received a life-changing surgery: he received a kidney from a complete stranger.

“Since Ryker’s kidney transplant, he’s become much smarter, crazier, definitely still wild, his speech is better, and he has a better appetite,” Alyssa Varner, Ryker’s mother, said.

Ryker was born with one kidney, and that kidney was failing him. The man who gave his kidney to Ryker was Dave Philipp. He didn’t know Ryker or his family, and just made the decision after seeing the need in a story on KCRG-TV9.

“From watching his story, and our youngest is special needs, he’s kind of developmentally delayed,” Philipp said. “This part of the life-cycle, you need to get a good start.”

Philipp originally wanted to remain anonymous, but a social media post spilled the news.

“My wife friended her, my wife’s best friend friended her, and her mom friended her; it all kind of came together from there,” Philipp said.

Philipp said the process to donate his kidney was fairly simple, and said thatthere was a long line of people wanting to help Ryker.

“My wife and I filled out applications 12 hours apart, and we weren’t called for testing for four weeks,” Philipp said.

Ryker had his need fulfilled by the kindness of someone they never knew. Now, the family wants to see their growing boy and know there are many more kids like him in need of a courteous stranger like Philipp.

“There’s still a lot of children out there that need kidney donations, and they’re waiting their turn,” Varner said. “All it takes is someone like Dave and his family to go through the process to help save another child that’s waiting.”

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