After years of waiting for a life-changing transplant, a three-year-old boy from New Brunswick has finally received the kidney donation he needed to lead a happy, healthy childhood.

Zaccari required 12 hours of dialysis every day to deal with congenital nephrotic syndrome, a rare kidney disease that forced him to regularly shuttle between his Moncton home and a Halifax hospital.

The toddler’s mother, Ashley Barnaby, was twice denied the ability to donate her own kidney due to her medical history. Barnaby argued that, as a mom, she should’ve been allowed to take the risk for the sake of her child’s health.

Nearly two years after her donor application was denied, Barnaby finally got the call she’d been waiting for.

“I answered the phone and it was our doctor on the other line – even just talking about it now, I get goosebumps,” Barnaby told CTV Atlantic on Tuesday. “He told me that they did find a kidney for Zaccari.”

And so late last week, Zaccari was admitted to hospital to receive the transplant. The long-awaited surgery was a success.

“As soon as they put it in it started working. He’s peeing up a storm,” Barnaby said.

“For any kidney parent or kidney mom, not having your child pass any urine for two years, it’s pretty much like liquid gold you’re seeing.”

Four days after the surgery, the little boy appears on track to a smooth recovery. On Tuesday, he was seen smiling and high-fiving a nurse inside his hospital room.

Zaccari’s anonymous donor came from somewhere within the province. Barnaby said she’s grateful to whoever chose to provide their kidney to give her son a shot at a better life.

“The kidney is working beautifully. My heart goes out to the family that lost someone. But I’m so, so thankful because of that donor,” she said, fighting back tears.

“My son’s able to be right there, and he’s healthy right now. So I’m very thankful.”

Zaccari’s medical ordeal has consumed a large part of his family’s life. His mother went so far as to paste a colourful decal down the length of her car that reads, “Be someone’s hero, be an organ donor.”

Above the back wheel, a sign in bold red letters reads, “Kidney donor needed.”

Despite Zaccari’s successful transplant, Barnaby won’t remove the message.

“We’re taking off the ‘kidney needed,’ but we’re going to continue to raise awareness on organ donation,” she said.

Barnaby was first denied her organ donation application in early 2016 by staff at Halifax’s Queen Elizabeth II hospital due to her history of high blood pressure and gestational diabetes during her pregnancy.

She appealed the decision, but was denied again a few weeks later.

With Zaccari on the road to recovery, Barnaby said she’s excited for her son to live his life to the fullest. The little boy already knows what he wants to do for his fourth birthday in June: go bowling.

“He’s never had a chance at a normal childhood. He’s always known the hospital life. And now, with the kidney – because someone registered – he’s going to be able to have a normal childhood.”

With files from CTV Atlantic