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Kaukauna girl's organ transplant journey inspires others to donate

Posted at 10:46 PM, Oct 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-01 00:34:47-04

NBC26 first introduced you to Sophia Skrede of Kaukauna when she was just five-months-old and in liver failure from a rare condition called biliary atresia. Now, she's a Kindergartener who is healthy, happy and inspiring others to explore organ donation.

"She is so full of life. It's amazing," said Sophia's mother, Steph.

The Skrede family is grateful to celebrate another anniversary.

"I think as it approaches the five year mark, it's really hitting me. It's hitting what she's been through, where she's come from."

Sophia received a life-saving liver transplant back in 2013 from family friend and living donor Kayla Fink.

"They have this unspoken bond that they just see each other and they don't have to say a word, but you just melt watching them," explained Steph.

Jackie Bladow of Burlington followed the Skrede's journey on Facebook.

"Just watching that whole process was so amazing. I told Stephanie after the fact, every time we would talk, I want to do that for somebody," explained Bladow.

Now, the teacher and mother of three finally got the call.

"You get that little butterfly sensation in the pit of your stomach and you're like, 'Ok. This is it,'" Bladow chuckled.

On December 5th, Bladow will donate a kidney to her husband's former co-worker, Kathy Mullen, who has been on dialysis for the past year. It has made it difficult for her to work as an in-home care provider for people with special needs.

"She just has a heart of gold, so I'm looking forward to getting her back to a place where she can do everything that she wants to do and have the energy to help people, because that really is her gift," explained Bladow.

Before the transplant, Bladow and Mullen will attend the 5th annual Shop for Phia event this weekend.

"We have an amazing line-up of crafters and vendors who are ready to give back and help out," said Steph.

Originally created to help the Skrede's with medical bills, now the proceeds benefit families dealing with similar health issues. This year, a new recipient was also added.

"Kayla came to me and she said, 'I really want to help living donors this year.' I'm like, 'Perfect. Let's make it happen,' so anything from parking to meals to medication expenses, just making it easier," said Steph.

Bladow appreciates the support and the opportunity to raise organ donation awareness at the event.

"I just feel so strongly about it, and that seed was planted a long time ago through Sophia's story."

It's a story that keeps getting better with every transplant anniversary.

"Now to inspire others and give back and create awareness, I'm thrilled,'" said Steph. "'I've found my happy place.'"

Shop for Phia will feature about 60 crafters and vendors. There will also be raffle items. The event is Saturday, November 3rd from 10:00am-4:00pm at Tanner's Grill & Bar in Kimberly.

Alos during the event, the Skredes will once again be collecting donated items for the Ronald McDonald House which supported them when Sophia was sick. You can drop-off art supplies, toys, blankets and gift cards during Saturday's fundraiser.