Family of 'Brave Blake' shares update for National Donor Day -

Family of 'Brave Blake' shares update for National Donor Day

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Blake Bahr (Credit: KMOV) Blake Bahr (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. ( -

News 4 first introduced viewers to Blake Bahr last summer, a few months after an organ donor helped save the Jefferson County boy's life.

"He came early and then went into kidney failure at two days old," said Heather Bahr, Blake's mom.

A complete stranger at the time, Laurie Jansen, volunteered to give her kidney to Blake. It was an amazing day for two families and doctors at two St. Louis hospitals. Surgeons at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital removed Laurie’s kidney and then transported it through the underground tunnel to SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital where Blake was waiting.

"She didn't have to do that. She didn't know us. I know she doesn't want to be looked at as a hero but in our eyes, she is," said Bahr.

Now, more than one year after that kidney transplant, Blake is a busy little boy.

"Never in a million years did we think we would see the amount of changes. He couldn't even roll or crawl or anything. He wouldn't eat. He had a feeding tube and dialysis for 13 hours a day," said Bahr. "Now, he is walking and getting into everything and he's just an amazing little guy."

The Bahr family continues to work with the Children's Organ Transplant Association (COTA) and is encouraging others to consider organ donation at this time when the need is greater than ever before.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, there were a record 33,600 transplants across the U.S. in 2016. At COTA, they saw a 10 percent patient increase.

Leaders at COTA said there are several factors contributing to the need for donors including more diseases being treated through transplants, better medicine is helping patients who were passed over for health reasons before now become eligible for transplants, and better education about organ donation.

Still, the cost for an organ transplant is staggering, partly due to supply and demand. According to COTA, transplant costs vary tremendously but generally transplants can cost anywhere between $250,000 and $800,000. No insurance plan covers all transplant-related expenses, like travel, post-op care, and time off for parents. COTA leaders believe if there were more donors, the costs could fall.

Now, the Bahr family is campaigning to encourage more donations. They are advocating for an opt-out system, like France just transitioned to. That would automatically make people a donor unless they specifically choose not to be. This week, they started a petition on

As well as anyone, the Bahr family understands how many lives kidney failure and kidney donation can change.

While Laurie, Blake's living donor, is expected to live the same long, full life that she would with two kidneys, Blake will eventually need another transplant, likely in about 15 years.

"It's one of those things you just take day by day and pray a lot and have faith things are going to work out but you're worried and scared and full of so many emotions. It's a crazy journey," said Bahr.

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