SHELBY, N.C. - A Shelby family is asking for prayers for a 6-year-old girl who is fighting a chronic kidney disease that already took the life of the girl's older sister two months ago.
Anchor Natalie Pasquarella talked to the family about their push for a life-saving transplant in the New Year.
Despite just finishing up dialysis at Levine Children's hospital, Gwen Hopper is full of energy.
Her parents, Gerald and Terinda Hopper, drive from their Shelby home three days a week for Gwen's treatment.
"They (kidneys) end up eventually failing to where they have to do dialysis," her father said.
The Hoppers found out both Gwen and her older sister Karma had the disease three years ago.
Just this fall, both girls were added to a transplant registry and two weeks after that, Karma lost her battle to the disease.
"It was just a shock, it was like a shock to the system," their mother said. "It just breaks your heart because you think you got so much time with your children."
Now both try to be strong for Gwen, as they focus on her push for a new kidney in 2014.
They're preparing her for surgery.
"Her protein's got to come up," Terinda Hopper said. "Yeah, her protein level has to come up. She has to gain 2 more pounds. Everything has to be perfect when you're on a donor list."
They said they're grateful for staff at Levine, including Gwen's doctor, Jack Weaver.
"We want to speed up the transplant process as much as possible but we have to make sure everything is going to be safe," Weaver said.
The Hoppers want everyone to cherish their families in the New Year.
"Treasure your children and love them because they could be gone tomorrow," Terinda Hopper said.
They're hopeful a kidney will come soon to save Gwen.
A fund for the family for medical and travel expenses has been set up through Wells Fargo