According to statistics provided by the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), kidney disease kills over 90,000 Americans every year – more than breast and prostate cancer combined; and yet, it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to donate one of my kidneys to my friend and former pastor back in 2009 that I really gave a passing thought to kidney disease and its impact on those around me.
One local mother, Desiree Shearer, also became acquainted with kidney disease through an unexpected set of circumstances involving her then-six year old son, Stephen. On October 31, 2012, Stephen was taken to Children’s Mercy Hospital and was found to have contracted E. coli O157:H7 – an infection which can ultimately lead to kidney failure. While Stephen was admitted to the hospital for what they believed would be a day- or two-day-long stay, his family did what most any family would do in a similar circumstance: they absorbed all of the information related to his illness and his treatment while remaining optimistic that none of the “worst-case scenarios” would come to pass.
Unfortunately, Stephen’s infection worsened and many of these scenarios quickly became a reality for his family. After surgery and six days of temporary dialysis, Stephen received three blood transfusions which improved his condition enough for him to be taken off of dialysis. Seventeen days after his initial visit to Children’s Mercy, Stephen was well enough to go home – just in time to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with his family.
When illness strikes, life gets turned on its side for everyone involved. Being hospitalized on Halloween meant no trick-or-treating for six-year-old Stephen. Two days later, his younger sister’s birthday party – her very first princess party – would have to be canceled as her family dealt with Stephen’s illness. Because Stephen’s health could turn in a matter of seconds, Desiree’ remained by his side more than twenty hours each day for the duration of his seventeen day hospitalization at Children’s Mercy. She credits the love and support of their family, friends, and neighbors, along with the staff at Kellybrook Elementary School in Liberty for getting them through what was one of the darkest times they would ever have to endure as a family. Desiree’ says, “we relied on hope, faith, and courage to get through this – a saying that is important to us each day!”
This, however, was not the end of the road as far as his illness was concerned. Stephen would need follow-up visits over the course of the next year with the kidney team at Children’s Mercy to ensure that he had successfully beaten Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, or HUS – a type of kidney disease which develops when E. coli bacteria lodged in the digestive tract make toxins that enter the bloodstream and start to destroy red blood cells. If Stephen’s blood counts and urine tests came back normal for one year, then he will more than likely not experience long-term complications as a result of this disease. Stephen has just one more visit in December before he will be considered to have beaten his disease!
As a way of bringing closure to this time in their lives, the Shearer family is participating in tomorrow’s Kidney Walk to help raise money and awareness to find a cure for HUS and other types of kidney disease so that no child has to endure what Stephen did. Desiree’ says, “every day has been a blessing with my child … Stephen has the scars that remind us daily of the trauma he went through but also the fight he put up – AND WON!”
If you’re interested in financially supporting the work of the National Kidney Foundation, you can do so by clicking here. If you’d like to join Stephen’s HUStlers and other teams and individuals at this year’s Kidney Walk, here are the details for tomorrow’s event:
Date: Saturday, October 12, 2013
Location: University of Missouri-Kansas City (Kansas City, MO)
Check In: 8:30 am
Walk: 10:00 am
Here are additional details, taken from the Kidney Walk website:
This year’s Kidney Walk will be a memorable experience for you, family, friends, and co-workers! Join us on October 12th!
Stop by the photo booth and get your picture taken!
Hungry? Grab some breakfast at the hospitality tent before the walk! We will have bagels, fruit, and coffee for you to enjoy!
Still hungry? After the walk, make sure you get a slice of pizza from Papa Murphy’s!
For the kiddos – our Kidney Korner will have face painting, “Go Fish,” crazy hair, and other fun games!
Acting out of CARICATURE? Deborah Moreno will be providing caricatures onsite. Grab your friends, family, or yourself to have your caricature drawn.
Oh, the Places You will Go – Don’t forget to grab your official Kidney Walk passport! Those who get stamps at all of our destinations will be entered to win great raffle prizes!
Kick up your feet and get a chair massage in our Wellness Corner or check out our NKF education tent to find out more about the prevention, awareness, and treatment of chronic kidney disease!
Don’t forget about our annual raffle!
Parking is FREE and located across the street from the walk site (UMKC Quad).
We hope you’ll consider joining Desiree’, Stephen, and the rest of their team as they walk to raise awareness of kidney disease right here in Kansas City. Thanks for your work, Shearer family!