Family’s Lives Turned Upside Down After Daughter’s Diagnosis

Family’s Lives Turned Upside Down After Daughter’s Diagnosis

OCEAN CITY – A local 5-year-old girl is still recovering from acute renal failure of the kidneys at Johns Hopkins Hospital Children Center in Baltimore after what was thought to be a minor illness quickly turned into a scary life or death situation.

Almost two weeks ago, on the morning of Oct. 10, 5-year-old Sarah Isett spent her morning playing soccer in the local Upward soccer league in West Ocean City, but complained that she didn’t feel well.

Her father, Steve, who is an educator and soccer coach in the Worcester County public school system, remembers that she hadn’t been feeling well for most of that week leading up to the day.

“She’s had no history of any major issues with her health concerning her kidneys, but about a week before, we had noticed some swelling and some lethargic tendencies,” said Steve Isett. “This is a kid who loves soccer and gymnastics and likes to be outside running around, so all of a sudden when she didn’t want to go outside, that was the first thing to let us know that there was something going on.”

After Sarah’s game, Steve’s wife Jayme hinted that she was going to take Sarah to the hospital to be checked out later that night after she got home from work, but Steve decided to take her to AGH that afternoon instead.

“I give credit to the doctors at AGH because in my mind, initially, I thought they were going to do some tests, and then my daughter and I were going to be going home, but things quickly went from concern to critical,” Isett said.

Doctors at AGH tested Sarah for possible allergic reactions that would explain the swelling, but when the results of a urinalysis came back, Steve says he knew things were taking a turn for the worse.

“A nurse came in about five minutes after she did the urine test and started hooking my daughter up to machines to monitor her vital signs,” said Isett. “I knew right then we weren’t going home and it was much more serious than I could have imagined.”

Doctors told Steve that Sarah needed to be taken immediately for urgent care, so the family rushed to Johns Hopkins where doctors discovered that Sarah’s kidneys were completely shutting down.

“The first few days were very difficult because you have these very good doctors telling you that they didn’t know what was going on”, said Isett, “those were tough days.”

Steve’s wife Jayme has been at Sarah’s side in Baltimore since day one, and Steve has been trying to juggle the couple’s other two children, ages 7 and 2. The family has leaned on family, friends, employers and other members of the community to ensure that life goes on as normal as possible for their two boys.

“Our one son is very active and we don’t want him to miss a lot of school and, of course, it’s tough on our 2-year-old, because every 2-year-old wants and needs their mom,” admitted Isett

Still, almost two grueling and emotional weeks later, doctors are starting to find out some answers.

“They don’t believe that this is permanent or chronic,” said Isett. “There is some damage to Sarah’s kidney, but the doctors are hopeful it will heal itself over time. They are telling us it will be about a 90-day recovery period.”

Isett says despite things starting to look much less grim, his young daughter is still struggling to feel like herself again.

“These past few days have been really hard on her,” said Isett. “There is still a lot of fluid retention in her body and she is on a heavy dosage of steroids, which can cause a great deal of swelling. The swelling is all over her body, and while it’s hard for us as parents to see because we can’t do much to help her right now, it’s hardest on her because she has to deal with the discomfort and the pain.”

A GoFundMe page has been started to help the Isett family offset the growing medical costs for Sarah’s recovery and it has quickly accrued almost $4,400 in about a week. If you’d like to support the local family, click

About The Author: Bryan Russo

Bryan Russo returned to The Dispatch in 2015 to serve as News Editor after working as a staff writer from 2007-2010 covering the Ocean City news beat. In between, Russo worked as the Coastal Reporter for NPR-member station WAMU 88.5FM in Washington DC and WRAU 88.3 FM on the Delmarva Peninsula. He was the host of a weekly multi-award winning public affairs show “Coastal Connection.” During his five years in public radio, Russo’s work won 19 Associated Press Awards and 2 Edward R. Murrow Awards and was heard on various national programs like NPR’s All Things Considered, Morning Edition, APM’s Marketplace and the BBC. Russo also worked for the Associated Press (Philadelphia Bureau) covering the NHL and the NBA and is a critically acclaimed singer/songwriter and composer.