Family celebrates Father's Day after lifesaving gift

For Minnesota family, Father’s Day 2022 is taking on added meaning this year. They are celebrating a dad’s special gift to his young son, organ donation, and the prospects of a healthy, long life.

Like many fathers, Jonathon Nold cherishes playing catch with his son. Now given everything that has transpired over the last several years, tossing a ball with baseball-loving, 11-year old Ty means even more to Jonathan.

"You take every day, and you are trying not to take it for granted because you don't know," Nold told FOX 9.

Nold says for a long time, the family did not know what was wrong with young Ty. The child was struggling with several health related issues including a lack of energy at times. They took him to the Doctor in fall, 2019.

Nold reported, "Did some bloodwork. And, the doctor said, hey, you know what? It is coming back for kidney failure. And of course, as a parent, you're like, that doesn't sound quite right."

Shockingly, further tests revealed Ty had just one kidney in his little body, something his parents did not know..

And compounding the issue, the one kidney was not working properly, functioning at less than 25 percent.

"So it was within an hour like your whole world is just thrown, you know, upside down," said Nold. "And it was insane."

Ty’s medical team told the family an eventual transplant was a necessity to give the youngster an opportunity at a long, healthy life. His father didn’t hesitate.

"That's when I asked immediately, why don’t you just take mine and let's just do it right now? And, you know, they calmed me down like, well, no, we appreciate it, but we have to do all of these tests," recalled Nold.

After months of grueling labs, dieting, and doctor visits for a declining Ty through the pandemic, Jonathan ended up proving to be the perfect donor.

And on May 4 of this year, Jonathan gave his son the ultimate gift, a life-saving kidney.

The transplant was conducted at M Health Fairview Masonic Children’s Hospital at the University of Minnesota with all early signs indicating a successful procedure. Ty is now running around, playing catch with Dad and getting dirty with friends and siblings. When asked what he remembers about the whole transplant process, the soon-to-be sixth grader answered, "It took a long time to happen."

The Nolds and their newly blended family will celebrate their first-post transplant Father’s Day this weekend with fresh perspective. 

They say they are grateful for their health, as well as, the love and support they have received throughout their medical odyssey including from their very favorite baseball team.

The Twins recently provided them with a lifetime of memories, inviting them onto the field before a game and giving Ty, a Coon Rapids Little League All-Star who can’t play this year because of his recovery, his very own personalized #2 jersey courtesy of Luis Arraez.

"It's hard to miss baseball for a season. I played for a long time," Ty said, adding he was excited to get back with his team next summer.

"It is special," Jonathan Nold said about Father’s Day. "As a dad, you want to do that for your son and make sure that he's got the best life and you want to make sure he's got every day that is special. You know, you try to treat everything as Father's Day and that's super important."

Jonathan’s wife said the family has learned how to take what life gives them each day.

"Every day is an important day because some days you celebrate, some days you survive and you can't bank on anything. So to say we got to put extra meaning on it. No, you just got to live like it, you know? Like you really just have to kind of go, ‘today is a great day,’" explained Lizz Budahl.

Supporters and loved ones are currently raising money for Jonathan, Ty and the rest of the family as they deal with medical costs and lost wages: