Paradise Teen Sisters Team Up for Lifesaving Organ Transplant

Paradise natives Mia (14 years) and Nyah (19 years) Herndon underwent joint kidney surgery today at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. Battling a rare and life-threatening disease, little sister Mia was in critical need of a new kidney. Big sister Nyah bravely volunteered to donate one of hers.

Unexpectedly in June, doctors determined Mia’s kidney function – 14% of normal – was deteriorating to the point that they needed to fast-track the transplant. Sister Nyah has proudly talked about donating a kidney to her little sister since Mia was first diagnosed with the rare liver disorder, Primary Hyperoxaluria, and suffered complete kidney failure as a baby 13 years ago. It’s the second transplant for Mia since 2005 when she was just 16 months old.

As the organ recipient, Mia is required to stay in San Francisco with her parents for at least two months to be monitored for possible transplant complications, returning to UCSF on a monthly basis thereafter for checkups. Nyah should be able to return to Paradise in mid-August and be back to her normal activities in 6-8 weeks.

Fundraising campaign with the Children’s Organ Transplant Association

To help lessen the financial burden of the significant transplant expenses and post-transplant care – especially for two children – family and friends kicked off a $50,000 fundraising campaign in partnership with the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) – a national charity that helps families and communities raise funds for transplant-needy patients. COTA’s services are completely free of charge and 100% of donations will assist with transplant-related expenses.With tremendous gratitude, family and friends encourage anyone moved by Mia and Nyah’s bravery and resilience to, please, donate in honor of their and their family’s journey at:

Checks are accepted and should be made payable to “COTA” with “In honor of Mia H.” in the memo line and mailed the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, 2501 W. COTA Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403. For more information or to volunteer for upcoming fundraising events/efforts, please contact Pete Samuel at (530) 877-3617.

Mia’s Incredible Story of Perseverance

Brave Baby Tackles Challenging Start to Life

At just 5 months old in 2004, Mia was diagnosed with Primary Hyperoxaluria, a rare liver disorder, along with complete kidney failure.

Mia and her Paradise family – mother, father, sister Nyah and brother Ethan – spent nearly a year at UCSF Children’s Hospital to stabilize her vital functions until she could undergo a life-saving kidney and liver transplant.

In 2005, Mia received her transplants during a 12-hour surgery. She was 16 months old at the time. After many more months at UCSF, Mia eventually became strong enough to return home to Paradise with her family.

Resilience that Inspires Others

Mia, now 14-years-old, has been under the careful, regular attention of the UCSF doctors to keep her kidney functioning, and her life as fun and fulfilling as possible.

There have been plenty of ups and downs, but Mia has stayed true to her warrior-like approach to living with a kidney that has not been fully functioning. She inspires her family, friends and community with her tenacious ability to bounce back after serious setbacks. 

Big sister Nyah is proud to have given Mia the life-saving organ she needed – something Nyah has talked about doing since Mia was a baby.

The family has been blessed with both Mia and Nyah’s can-do attitudes toward Mia’s disease, as their youngest sibling, Ireland, was diagnosed with leukemia at 3 years of age and underwent several years of intensive treatment. Fortunately, she is in remission.

Donations Needed to Help Mia & Family

A $50,000 fundraising COTA campaign was created to assist with Mia and Nyah’s transplant-related expenses and post-transplant care. UCSF doctors are requiring Mia and her parents to live in San Francisco for up to two months to monitor Mia’s transplant progress.

Tax-deductible donations may be made online at: The Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) is a trusted national charity that Mia and her family have partnered with for the last 14 years. COTA is dedicated to guiding families and communities in raising funds for transplant-needy patients. Checks or money orders should be made payable to “COTA” with “In honor of Mia H.” in the memo line and mailed the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, 2501 W. COTA Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403.

Tri Counties Bank of Chico has generously pledged to match their employee contributions to the campaign up to $3,000

100% of all funds raised are used for transplant-related expenses.

Family and friends are currently planning fundraising events through the fall and would appreciate the public checking in for regular updates on Mia’s COTA website:

Mother, Shasta Hawkins, a nurse at Feather River Hospital and father, Jason Hawkins, a CalFire firefighter, will have to take leaves of absences from their jobs to care for Mia and the rest of the family during this time. The Hawkins’ other children include Ethan (16 years), Jayden (13 years), and Ireland (8 years).

Mia has been taking costly medications (immunosuppression, blood pressure, electrolytes, red blood cell stimulation) twice a day for 13 years, which help her body accept her liver and kidney. Because this is a second transplant, Mia will have to take three immunosuppressive drugs rather than one for the rest of her life.

The current kidney transplant is a “treatment option,” not a cure. Mia will most likely need another kidney later on down the road, and funds raised during this campaign can be used to cover future medical and post-surgery care.

For more information or to volunteer for upcoming fundraising events/efforts, please contact Pete Samuel at (530) 877-3617.

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