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Girl recovers after receiving kidney from father

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Belle Helton received a kidney from her father. Belle Helton received a kidney from her father.
HIRAM, Ga. -

A Paulding County second-grader is ready for a special Father's Day after receiving a life-changing gift from her dad four months ago.

Back in February, FOX 5 followed Belle Helton into the operating room as she was set to receive a kidney donation from her father, Kyle.

Today, the Hiram 7-year-old has the kind of off-the-charts second-grade energy you wish you could bottle and sell. She can keep it up now, because she's no longer battling kidney failure.

"It's wonderful to go to the park with her and watch her run and play and not plop just out pure exhaustion, frequently," said her mother, Michelle Helton.
 
For years Belle's big brothers, Chandler and Grayson, and her parents watched Belle struggling, sleeping every night hooked to a dialysis machine.

No more.
    
The kidney came from Belle's dad, Kyle, in a year of twists and turns.

"The past year has been very heavy duty, yes," said Michelle Helton.

While both of Belle's parents were a donor match, Belle's father wasn't supposed to be the one to give her a kidney; that was mom Michelle.

But when Michelle went to get screened, and underwent a mammogram: doctors discovered she had invasive breast cancer -- something she may not have known for years if she hadn't volunteered to be her daughter's donor.

For months, Belle's surgery was on hold.

As Michelle fought through chemo and surgery, Kyle stepped in to be Belle's donor.

"Once I'm there, reality set in that I'm about to do this, so it was a big deal, it was," said Kyle.

On February 24, Kyle rolled into the operating room at Emory University Hospital. Across the street, at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, Belle waited for her turn. When it came, surgeons left Belle's failing kidneys intact, but gave her a new adult-sized one from Kyle.

Four months later: no more dialysis, no more exhaustion, no more strict rules about food,

"I couldn't eat cheese, or peanut butter, or Sprite. Or French fries," said Belle.

"One day she was sitting at the piano, playing the piano and she threw both hands up in the air and said, ‘Praise God, I can eat chocolate, cheese and peanut butter again,'" Said Michelle Helton.

For the first time in two years, Belle got to go swimming again.
   
"I said ‘Hooray!' Because it was my first time getting in that pool," Belle said.

"It's just a great feeling to know that she's able to do these things. These little things, to some people, are big things to us," said Kyle.

Michelle still needs chemotherapy once a month, but her hair is growing back, and she and Belle are getting stronger,

"Life is sweeter, it truly is. We're trying to establish our new normal.  And we're getting there," said Michelle.

This Father's day will be the sweetest yet.

"I'm going make my dad a card. Probably buy him a little gift," said Belle. "Because he's the best dad in the whole world!"

Kyle says it's hard to explain, but he feels like he's the one who got the gift -- he got to give Belle life not once, but twice.

"I feel complete.  If everything ended today, I would feel complete," said Kyle.

"Happy Father's Day, Daddy. I love you.  And thanks for the kidney!  Call me," said Belle.

That's Belle's new catch phrase: "call me!" It doesn't matter that dad is sitting two feet away from her.

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