When Logan Perea was only one week old, he started kidney dialysis.
Born with end stage renal failure, his kidneys could not function on their own. While other kids in Littleton were playing outside as toddlers, Logan spent the first three years of his life hooked up to a machine for four to 14 hours at a time.
In January, the 4-year-old celebrated his one year anniversary of his kidney transplant, which made it possible for him to live a life without dialysis. Even after his transplant, however, he continues to face health challenges and show strength in fighting them.
In March, student leaders at Chatfield Senior High School chose Logan to be their featured child for their 10th annual “Wish Week,” which raises funds to help kids like him have their dreams fulfilled through Make-A-Wish Colorado.
A call to donate
“A lot of the time when you see kidney disease, you think about seeing people in movies or shows that are adults going doing hemodialysis or whatever, but kids go through it too,” said Samantha Perea, Logan’s mother. “It's really impactful on them and makes it hard for them to do normal activities and be around other kids.”
One day, in the midst of Logan’s dialysis journey, Perea made a decision that would change their lives — she decided to dye her hair purple.
Through a Facebook post, she met Devin Huff, a hairstylist in her early twenties who grew up in Littleton. Perea started going to Huff regularly for hair appointments. Over the course of six or seven months, they got to know each other and Huff started to learn Logan’s story.
“I was doing (Perea’s) hair one day and she was talking to me like she normally does, you know, about her kid and her life and stuff,” Huff said. “And she had just happened to bring up that he was an O positive blood type. And I don't know, I kinda call it the universe or, you know, whatever people believe in — something just kind of hit me. I didn't say anything to her, but I was like ‘I think that I want to try to donate my kidney to this little boy.’”
Without telling Perea, Huff got tested and learned that she was an almost perfect match for Logan.
“They said the next closest match would have been a sibling,” she said.
Huff, who previously worked as a certified nursing assistant with liver and kidney transplant patients, said she had insight on what a major difference transplants could make.
“I don't think that people realize how big of a deal it is when people receive organs,” she said. “Logan was just so young and so little. And I got to see his mom, and it kind of put me back to watching what the families struggled through of people I was taking care of.”
Some people questioned Huff’s decision, but she said there was never a doubt in her mind that she was doing the right thing.
“It's not as scary as people would think it is when you put it into perspective of what people are going through like Logan,” she said. “The surgery itself was such a small thing compared to what Logan's been through for his whole life and the things he had to miss out on... It was life-changing for him and it was such a small thing in comparison that I could do for him.”
Perea said she was grateful for Huff and her decision.
“She's a really incredible person and she has an incredible family we’re just extremely grateful for her,” she said.
On Jan. 18, Devin Huff (standing) and Logan Perea celebrate the one year anniversary of his kidney transplant. Photo by Samantha Perea.
Logan got connected with Make-A-Wish Colorado after his kidney transplant. Perea said the organization has given him many special opportunities, several of which came through him being the featured child for Chatfield’s fundraising week.
“I'm actually alumni of Chatfield,” she said. “So that was special that my high school was having their tenth (Wish Week) anniversary and also chose my son to be their Make-A-Wish kid.”
In December, Logan accompanied the Chatfield women’s flag football team to a Denver Broncos game, where he got to meet some players. During Wish Week, Logan, his family and Huff went to several restaurants for fundraising events.
About thirty students planned the week, said Lyli Alcover-Matsuda, one of the student leaders. During the school days, there was a muffin sale, games and other challenges that students and staff could pay to participate in.
The highlight of the week was when the students invited Rocky, the mascot of the Denver Nuggets, to their final assembly for Logan to meet.
The week's events raised more than $30,000, which is enough to grant the wishes of four Colorado children with critical illnesses, according to the school.
“I just feel like being able to make a difference in another person's life, whether you know them or not, is really important, and it's definitely what the world needs more of,” Alcover-Matsuda said.
For Perea, the best part of the week was seeing the community come together for Logan and their family.
“It's really been a journey through his health experience,” she said. “We just kind of learn to appreciate the little things and focus on positives and take everything one day at a time… It's just been really amazing to see the community come together in support of us and Make-A-Wish and just see that people care.”