"I went from thinking I was completely healthy to only having 10 percent kidney function," Alanna Beecher said.By Nicole Ford

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – One New York family never thought they’d end up in Pittsburgh, let alone for life-saving surgery.

Alanna Beecher was living a fairly normal teenage life. Then suddenly, the 14-year-old’s world changed with one devastating diagnosis.

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“Stage 5 kidney failure and I needed a kidney transplant. I went from thinking I was completely healthy to only having 10 percent kidney function,” Beecher said.

That was nearly two years ago. Her next move, according to her doctors, was to find a living donor.

“People assume you have to be the same blood type or you have to be related. The number one requirement is you have to be willing to be a donor,” said Dr. Amit Tevar, the UPMC surgical director of the
UPMC Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program.

Beecher didn’t have to look far to find a donor. Her mother, Julie Keck, was willing but admits she was also a little terrified.

“I was scared, didn’t know what to expect. It was scary for our family because we had two people in surgery rather than just one,” Keck said.

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The family is from Buffalo, but when the family heard of the transplant successes at UPMC, they decided to come to Pittsburgh.

“I was ready to feel better and that was our goal to get to transplant. So I could feel better and being wheeled back there, this is the last time I’m going to feel terrible,” Beecher said.

Ten months after Beecher’s diagnosis, surgeons at UPMC Children’s Hospital handled her part of the transplant, while Keck’s operation happened simultaneously at Montefiore.

Two transplant teams at two UPMC hospitals and in the end, one successful outcome.

“Seeing her after a year being back in school, after a year doing what she loves — it’s so impressive,” said Dr. Armando Ganoza with UPMC Children’s Hospital.

While their lives have returned to normal, Beecher and Keck told KDKA that the Steel City and what happened at UPMC will always hold a special place in their hearts.

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“We felt in Pittsburgh, even if we weren’t all from there, we ended up becoming Pittsburgh people because we were bonded by issues with health,” Keck said.