Anastazja Norris & Sagirah Ahmed Norris
Kidney Recipient & Mother
Anastazja “Ana” Norris was a sick little girl, yet doctors in Chicago couldn’t seem to figure out what was wrong. Ana’s parents, Joe and Sagirah, moved her to Houston, where the doctors quickly determined Ana had vesicoureteral reflux, which was shutting down her kidneys. Within three years, she was on dialysis, and her kidney function fell to just 10 percent. She was placed on the waiting list for a transplant in December 2015 at age 7.
Sagirah was so used to seeing her daughter ill, she says it was hard to imagine what it would be like to have a healthy daughter.
“I was numb to the situation,” she said. “I don’t think I understood what a difference the gift of life would actually make – what Ana would be like when her kidney was functioning. But I was mostly hopeful my child would get to experience all the best things this world has to offer, hopeful she’d spend fewer days in the hospital and more days being the happy girl who had been stuck in a sick body.”
The family stayed as active as they could, working to keep Ana healthy enough for a transplant in case a match was found. Sagirah and Ana were active in the Girl Scouts together and hosted a huge end-of-the-year pool party for the troop of Daisies to become Brownies.
When Sagirah went inside to retrieve her phone from its charger so she could take more pictures, she saw she had 25 missed calls. Just as she realized what this meant, the phone rang in her hand. She answered and moments later ran outside, shouting and crying, “Ana got a kidney!”
The entire party erupted with joyful tears. They paused to pray for the grieving family who had donated to give Ana life.
As the Norrises rushed to pack for the hospital, Joe went around thanking their friends for cleaning up after the party – and accidentally fell into the pool. He arrived at Texas Children’s Hospital soaking wet, but grateful.
Ana received her new kidney on May 23, 2016.
Now, she can be a normal fourth-grade kid, attending school and riding roller coasters. She’s even been away at camp and on trips to Cuba, London and Belize – something her family never would have imagined was possible after so many nights in the hospital.
The Norris family lives and gives as advocates for organ and tissue donation, volunteering as Ambassadors of Hope for LifeGift and signing up 122 teammates for Team Once Upon a Kidney in the Donate Life Texas 2nd Chance Run. Sagirah, who LifeGift nominated to be the Texas Medical Center Volunteer of the Year, aims to register as many donors as possible, saying, “Every registration I get means that people will live just like Ana lived.”
Ana gives by volunteering both with her Girl Scout troop and with her family for organizations including LifeGift, Avon, National Kidney Foundation and the Ronald McDonald House. She joined Team Texas in the 2018 Transplant Games in Salt Lake City, Utah; she has set a goal to sign up 200 participants to Team Once Upon a Kidney for the next 2nd Chance Run; and she’s thinking about becoming a transplant coordinator.
Though they haven’t yet met the family of Ana’s donor, Bridget, they plan to meet them this November at a LifeGift donor medal ceremony. Sagirah said, “I often think and pray about our hero angel and her family. I hope that they know the choice they made – during what I can only imagine as their worst grief – is a choice that saved our princess.”
The entire experience has inspired Sagirah to consider ways she can bless others with the same gift – like by becoming a living donor.