Updated: Jan. 25, 2023 at 10:00 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – KTTC is honored to introduce viewers monthly to some of the youngest among us, facing the unthinkable with bravery and optimism. In our 29th “Kids With Courage” segment, Caitlin Alexander introduces us to two-year-old Gabe Ryan.

Gabe enjoys playing with his four siblings and his parents on their family farm in Goodhue.

In particular, he loves to play “cows” with his toy farm set.

But getting here, at one point, seemed impossible.

“The whole point was if he doesn’t have lungs, he’s not going to survive birth,” said Gabe’s mom, Micayla Ryan.

At her 20-week ultrasound appointment, doctors spotted a problem with her baby boy’s kidneys.

The condition was eventually determined to be polycystic kidney disease.

“It means both kidneys have lots of cysts on them and that means they wouldn’t be functional,” Micayla said.

Kidney issues can mean low levels of amniotic fluid and issues with how babies’ lungs develop.

Micayla and her husband, Eric, could only hope and pray for the best.

“We named him right around that Christmas season when the angel Gabriel is in all the readings, and it’s just so prevalent that he brought the good news to Mary. So, it’s just really lovely that he brings us good news all the time,” Micayla said.

Gabe hung in there and came into the world at 37 weeks with the tiniest amount of amniotic fluid.

“It was just one tiny little bubble right by his mouth,” Micayla said.

But Gabe’s future and the status of his kidneys remained uncertain.

“If they work at all, how do they function?” Eric recalled.

Gabe underwent several procedures, one to place a catheter to get him ready for dialysis. He had others for hernias.

He began dialysis and did well.

He was able to go home at around two months old, but the Ryans knew they’d be back to Mayo Clinic soon.

“The goal was [to] get him to 10 kilos and get him a new kidney,” Eric said.

Eric was determined to help his new son and went for a physical to determine if he could donate his kidney.

Doctors determined he was a good candidate, but his kidney would be too big for little Gabe.

“It would be better if we could’ve found a smaller one,” Eric said.

Eric entered a program called the Kidney for Life Initiative through the national kidney registry.

Two weeks later, there was good news for Gabe.

“Gabriel’s kidney came from a woman in North Carolina,” Micayla said.

Eric’s kidney went to South Dakota.

“So, this web is just like continuing and it’s incredible that this program does this,” Micayla said.

Now, it’s up to Gabe to just keep growing.

He still has to have blood draws and his parents have to watch his diet closely.

He currently eats by tube.

Mayo Clinic Pediatric Nephrologist Dr. Carl Cramer, II is very pleased with Gabe’s progress.

“It’s fun to see him sort of come in for his clinic visits, now he’s running around the room playing with things,” Dr. Cramer said.

At home, our Kid with Courage will keep playing with his family-- and his cows!

As always, if there is a Kid With Courage Caitlin should know about, email her at