After Joliet teen receives kidney transplant, her brother discovers he has same rare condition
JOLIET, Ill. - A Joliet family now has two reasons to get the word out about organ donation.
Their teenage daughter was diagnosed with a rare kidney condition that required a transplant. Now, they've discovered their son has the same condition.
April is National Donate Life Month, and the Reyes family wants to spread that message.
"The actual doctor calls me and says, 'I'm not believing the test. I can't believe I'm telling you that Nicholas has Nephronophthisis as well,'" said Lizzie and Nicholas' mom Stacey Reyes.
One family with two rare diagnoses.
At the age of 14, Lizzie Reyes began experiencing strange symptoms including a limp, bulging eyes and low energy.
A blood test revealed it was the genetic condition Nephronophthisis, and Lizzie was experiencing end-stage kidney disease. The disease is usually discovered in young teenagers.
"The fact that Nicholas only has one kidney, I haven't connected with any family whose children only have one kidney and this diagnosis."
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The family thought Lizzie's older brother, born with only one functioning kidney, was in the clear since he underwent genetic testing as a baby and hadn't shown symptoms of the condition.
But they were wrong.
"Now we have a better understanding of what we're going through because we've been through it with Lizzie," said Lizzie and Nicholas' dad Felix Reyes.
At 18, he too needs a kidney donation.
"Organ donation saves not just the recipient's life, but it saves the entire family's life. Because when Elizabeth was waiting for a transplant we were all waiting for that transplant, all of our lives were affected," said Stacey.
The Reyes family hopes a living donor comes forward who is a match for Nicholas.
Living donor organs tend to transplant well and last longer than organs from deceased patients.