Former Air Force pilot gives 3-year-old son a kidney

Community helped cover $150K transplant

RAMONA, Calif. - A 3-year-old Ramona boy is living a much happier life after getting a new kidney from his mother.

Liam Houck was born with prune belly syndrome, a genetic disorder where the abdominal muscles do not develop. His parents, Reid and Vanessa, knew Liam would need a new kidney before he was born.

It turned out that Vanessa was the best match.

"I was the closest match of everyone that got screened that could donate," she said. "It was exciting because I wanted to do it from the get-go."

On Aug. 6, doctors at UCLA took a kidney from Vanessa and gave it to Liam. The family was at home in Ramona less than three weeks later.

"The new kidney is really improving his life overall," said Vanessa, who is a former Air Force KC-135 pilot.

An outpouring of support after speaking with 10News and other media helped the Houcks raise more than $150,000 to pay for Liam's transplant.

"We met our goal in two and a half weeks," said Reid, a Marine captain and also a pilot.

Reid said it could not have happened with the outpouring of support from the community but especially his command, which gave him the time and assignments to care for his family.

The Houcks said Liam is doing well but will eventually need another kidney. Transplants last on average about 15 years.

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