Isabel “Izzy” Rammell, of Springville, was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease when she was just 6 months old. An ultrasound revealed that only one of Izzy’s kidneys was functioning, and only partially.

Despite her diagnosis at a young age, Izzy, who celebrated her 13th birthday on April 2, has always been active and energetic, according to her adoptive mother, Lara Rammell.

“Busy Izzy,” as her family calls her, is always doing something, whether it’s skateboarding, biking, swimming, dancing or reading.

“She’s just fun,” Rammell said. “She just has this energy about her.”

In recent months, however, Izzy’s health has declined. She gets dizzy easily and is frequently tired.

“She’s missed a lot of school over the last year,” said Rammell. “She gets stomach aches a lot. Her appetite is affected a lot. And so it’s tricky to keep her energy up with that.”

Rammell said her daughter was scheduled to have a kidney transplant at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City near the end of April, “but with COVID(-19) we now have had to put that on hold indefinitely.”

On March 16, Intermountain Healthcare, which operates Primary Children’s Hospital, announced that it would postpone “all elective non-urgent surgeries and procedures” to avoid “putting patients at unnecessary risk” and to allow caregivers to treat patients “who have the greatest need.”

Getting a kidney transplant during a pandemic would be dangerous, said Rammell, noting that her daughter would be put on immunosuppressants to reduce the likelihood of her body rejecting an organ transplant, which would bring her “immune system down to like nothing.”

“So even though her kidney is continuing to decline and she needs the transplant now, they’re considering it to be safer to wait,” Rammell said, adding that it would likely be three to four months before the transplant would be rescheduled.

The coronavirus pandemic has also led to last-minute adjustments in fundraising efforts for Izzy’s transplant and future medical care.

Laurie Millar, a neighbor who organized a fundraising campaign through the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, said she and other organizers “had to postpone previous plans to do, like, a 5K or a fun family night because of the virus and the restrictions that come with that.”

Rather than give up, Millar said organizers have started campaigning online. They are planning a “virtual 5K” where families can “sponsor” Izzy by buying T-shirts and taking photos of themselves running, biking or rollerblading.

Additionally, Millar said they are looking to hold an “Art for Izzy” campaign where Springville residents can post art in their windows or on social media.

As a tribute to Izzy turning 13 earlier this month, Millar and others launched a “$13 for 13” campaign encouraging people to donate throughout the month. Additionally, Papa John’s in Springville donated 13% of its proceeds from orders that used the code “IZZY13” on Izzy’s birthday.

“It was awesome,” said Millar. “We had a great response and it really raised awareness in the community for Izzy. And they were slammed the whole day. And so that was really special to see.”

Millar said they raised about $3,500 of their $50,000 goal throughout Izzy’s birthday week. As of Tuesday, a total of $6,577 had been raised by 78 contributors.

“People have been so generous already,” Millar said. “It kind of blows you away. We’re really grateful.”

Millar described Izzy, who is her daughter’s best friend, as “very spunky and fun and creative and kind.”

“But she also has a little mischievous side to her,” Rammell laughed. She remembers one time when she walked into her kitchen and saw her 2-year-old daughter swinging from the chandelier.

“That just captures her little personality,” said Rammell. “Just swinging from chandeliers and enjoying life.”

Once she gets her transplant, Izzy said she wants to go to Hawaii to see the pineapple farms, because pineapples are her favorite fruit.

More information about the campaign to raise money for the Children's Organ Transplant Association in honor of Izzy can be found at COTAforIsabel.com. All proceeds go to transplant-related expenses. 

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.

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