When the face of 10-year-old Eva Brown began to swell up following a meal, her parents knew something was terribly wrong. Having eaten Japanese food, they suspected it was a severe allergic reaction, but rushed her to hospital as a precaution. It was a decision that likely saved the young girl’s life.
“They treated her, and everything seemed okay,” Alana, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, told PEOPLE. “But 45 minutes after we went home, it starts to happen again, but worse.” Again, she was taken back to hospital, where the doctors made a shocking discovery – her kidneys were failing, and fast. In fact, tests revealed that they had been functioning at just four percent capacity.
The medics told Eva’s mom, Alana, that her daughter would likely have died if she had not taken the decision to go to hospital. It was a highly traumatic piece of news to receive. “I cannot even describe to you, it shook my faith, and I was just on the verge of a breakdown,” Alana, 39, recalled. “We didn’t understand what was being told to us, we didn’t know, is my child gonna die?”
After months of medical tests, Eva was eventually diagnosed with a rare condition that caused scarring to form in kidney tissue. The illness, called “collapsing focal segmental glomerulosclerosis,” can lead to complications like high blood pressure, hypertension, edema and swelling in the legs, and, eventually, renal failure.
It was clear that this gravely ill young girl required a kidney transplant as soon as possible. The family searched desperately, but could not locate a match. In the meantime, Eva was hooked up to a dialysis machine at home every night for sessions up to 10 hours at a time. It was an arduous and exhausting treatment.
“It’s usually like a twelve to fifteen-hour process because there’s an hour to set-up beforehand, then you have to get all her vitals, and while it’s a ten-hour process, that’s only if there are no alarms,” Alana explained. “But alarms go off all through the night, so you have to wake up, fix whatever the issue is, reset the machine, restart the machine, and then continue with that process.”
As they continued to hunt down a suitable donor, the family set up a YouCaring page to help cover the mounting medical bills. Just over $4,000 has been raised so far, while the goal is $12,000.
Then, following another social media appeal from a friend, everything changed. A stranger responded to the plea – a woman named Tanya Thomas.
“Somehow Tanya got ahold of the post, and someone gave her my phone number, and we just started texting back and forth, along with the other people who had responded,” Alana said. “Slowly, one-by-one, everyone started fading out. But one person stayed, and it was Tanya Thomas.”
After going through testing, it was confirmed – she was a match! In another remarkable twist, it turned out that Tanya is also a teacher at Eva’s school!
“I immediately started crying and wrapped my arms around her,” Alana said of meeting Thomas in person for the first time. “My jaw just dropped.”
“She’s such a woman of faith,” Brown told CBN News. “And it was her faith and her gift that restored mine. God sent her not only to be a blessing for my daughter but to remind me that he has his hand in everything we do.”
Now, Alana, Eva and Tanya are all committed to giving God all the glory for arranging the extraordinary circumstances in which they now find themselves.
“Tanya wanted to make it clear that God gets all the glory, she did this because God told her to, and she wants to help bring awareness to others to be living donors,” Alana said. “It’s a message that she and Eva share.”
“We were desperate, and God answered our prayers,” she concluded. “Everything that Eva does now, Tanya’s always going be a part of that.”
You can donate to Eva’s YouCaring page here.