A foster child’s urgent need for kidney prompts appeal

Leland, 5, highlights need for organ donation

(AUSTIN, TX – November 3, 2015) Today in Austin, an urgent plea was made on behalf of a 5-year-old foster child who desperately needs a kidney to survive.

“We’re here today to discuss an unusual and very serious case involving a little boy named Leland,” said Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D. professor of pediatric and transplant surgery at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and medical director of pediatric transplantation at University Hospital. “Leland’s kidney’s failed at a very early age, and he has been on dialysis most of his life. Most children are not on dialysis as long as Leland.”

Dr. Cigarroa spoke at a news conference at Dell Children’s Medical Center, held to draw attention to Leland’s plight. Because of his foster status, details of his life including his last name remain confidential.

Leland likes dinosaurs and Star Wars. He’s learning his alphabet and thinks homework is cool. To see him running on the playground, one would never know that Leland is a desperately sick little boy racing the clock toward a fast-narrowing window for a kidney transplant.

Leland has been on dialysis — a mechanical process that filters the blood of toxins when the kidneys fail — for most of his young life.

The problem is that Leland has had a number of vascular grafts that allow his blood to circulate through the filtering process of dialysis. These grafts eventually fail, and Leland recently underwent what has been described as a “last-ditch attempt” graft on his leg. When that graft fails — which could be in days, weeks or months, no one is certain — his only option will be a kidney transplant, doctors say. 

“As you know, Leland is a foster child,” said Judge John Specia, Commissioner of Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. “Currently there are nine foster children on the transplant list, including Leland. The state of Texas has to fight for these children in what is already an exceedingly difficult situation. I do not want these children to be forgotten. So on behalf of all of our children who need transplants, please consider organ donation.”

As for Leland, all he knows is he needs a kidney transplant — and he’s eager to get one. He knows he can’t eat like other kids, or swim, or go down a water slide until he gets one. When his foster mother drives him past a water park near their home, he points to it and says, “I’m going there when I get my kidney.”

The people caring for Leland hope he will get a living kidney donation. A transplant from a living donor generally starts working faster, lasts longer, and can extend a patient’s life compared to those who receive a kidney from a deceased donor. Donors can be family members, friends or even strangers who are a match.

Although donating a kidney to someone is a serious decision, one that should be made with an understanding of the possible risks and complications,it can save lives. For those interested learning more about being an altruistic living kidney donor for Leland — or others — please visit online at UTCLivingDonor or Donate Life America., or call (210) 567-5777.

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