It was almost five years ago when Alicia and Michael Smith learned they were pregnant with their second son, Reese. But, soon after getting the joyful news, they learned the road they'd started would have some twists and turns.
"[It was a] very difficult pregnancy. It started off easy," said Alicia. "He was unexpected, but God gave him to us for a reason."
"We didn't find out until several months in that we were going to have issues," said Michael. "They told us that there were some abnormal things going on with his kidneys."
"A week before he was born we actually thought the kidney's were going to be okay," said Alicia. "We found out when he was born that there was no kidney function."
Both Reese's parents say after he was born there wasn't much hope.
"When I woke up that evening the day he was born they just didn't have a lot to say," said Alicia.
"In the beginning, we didn't think he was going to make it," said Michael. "Everybody was telling us he's not going to make it.
"We went in and held him, which is very abnormal but we didn't know what Monday would hold," said Alicia.
Less than two weeks later, they had a big decision to make.
"On Christmas Day we actually decided to let Reese go if that was what we needed to do," Alicia explained. "And that was after 13 days. But luckily the doctor was not there and we couldn't do it that day. We came in the next day and he magically wasn't worse."
"He turned around we knew after that that he was going to improve," said Michael.
"It was...amazing," said Alicia. "We finally were able to bring him home in the end of April of 2010."
But, Reese wasn't out of the woods yet.
"He was on peritoneal dialysis for two years and he was on hemodialysis for one year," explained Alicia.
"Every week [he had] doctors appointments. [It was] five and six days a week back and forth," said Michael.
"It was basically like we had to some extent a newborn for three years," said Alicia. "And then he was able to get his kidney."
Alicia donated a kidney to Reese in May of 2013.
"We were just so happy she was a match," said Michael.
"It's an amazing thing to be able to do anyway and to do it for your child? And see the difference? In May before he got his kidney he was stationary and now he's walking and running behind the kids at school," said Alicia.
She says they both feel his growth is largely due to the help of the Children's Hospital of Georgia.
"He's walking and he never should have walked," said Alicia. "He's here and he never should have been here. And we give a lot of that to the great surgeons and the great doctors we were able to have."
"The Children's Hospital has been excellent to us as far a Reese is concerned," said Michael.
"It makes such a difference that they're able to do their jobs and people give so that the hospital functions better and more for the kids than anything else," said Alicia.
"Without that...they can't do what they did for us," said Michael.
Now, Reese is 4 years old and Alicia and Michael say they're looking forward to continuing to watch him advance as he reaches toward his goals.
They say he tells him he wants to be a doctor when he grows up.
"I hope that one day he's walking the halls here and he can remember walking them as a little boy and knowing that the hospital has done everything that he needed it to do and he can turn around and give that to patients and be the doctor that he wants to be if that's what he chooses," said Alicia.
"He's so outgoing that I don't know what he would end up doing!" Michael exclaimed.
Reese isn't yet out of the woods.
His parents say the Children's Hospital of Georgia is still their second home while he continues to battles certain health issues.
Have information or an opinion about this story? Click here to contact the newsroom.
Copyright WRDW-TV News 12. All rights reserved. This material may not be republished without express written permission.