Lucas Everitt is three years old and loves hockey, baseball, riding his bike and Ninja Turtles.
He also has end-stage renal disease.
Lucas and his family were some of the supporters in attendance at the 11th annual Prince George Kidney Walk on Sunday (Sept. 23), which takes place across the province to raise awareness and funds for those affected by kidney disease.
His mom, Natasha McGreish, alongside his dad Ryan and big brother Carson, shared Lucas’ story with the crowd in the AIMHI gymnasium.
“Lucas' story begins during my pregnancy when he had a partial bladder obstruction, which prevented his bladder from emptying properly,” says McGreish, explaining this put pressure on his developing kidneys and he was born with two deformed kidneys.
At just five days old, Lucas had to undergo emergency renal dialysis, after which his recovery began.
“I wish I could say Lucas' struggles ended there, but the first year of life was full of ups and downs — the constant blood work, surgeries, bladder infections, appointments and hospital admissions took a toll on us,” says McGreish. “(There were) plenty of sleepless nights of us wondering what are we doing wrong, how can I make this easier, how long can he fight before everything shuts down?”
When Lucas was a year old he had his right kidney removed.
McGreish says the surgery was tough and the recovery was even tougher, “but once again Lucas showed us strength and powered through.”
She says Lucas' right kidney had been a source of infection, and since it was removed Lucas has been infection free.
Now, family and friends are being tested to see if there's a potential kidney match for Lucas.
“I struggle every day with the thought of watching my boy go through another major surgery but it means a better quality of life,” says McGreish, adding that she has come to realize the fighting and advocating their family has done for Lucas has helped other families in the same situation.
“Lucas will most likely need more than one transplant in his life. Our hope is that medical technology will take over for this need; the kidney foundation is Lucas’ way to a better future,” says McGreish. “We are here to help spread awareness and advocate for all of those awaiting transplant.”
The money raised at the Kidney Walk in Prince George and at kidney walks around the province goes toward kidney education, research and support for kidney patients.
“Kidney disease is a silent disease, unfortunately,” says Paul Ravelle, president of the Prince George chapter of the Kidney Foundation. “You really don’t know you have kidney disease until you are tested for it, and by the time a lot of people determine they do have kidney disease, it’s in an advanced state.”
He encourages people to check their kidney function at their yearly physical, which can be done with a simple blood test.
“Unfortunately, there is no cure for kidney disease but it can be slowed through medication, proper diet exercise, or change in lifestyle,” says Ravelle.
To learn more about kidney disease or to make a donation to the Kidney Foundation, visit kidney.ca.