Help Damien get a Kidney

$84,347 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 2,096 people in 5 months
Damien is a smart, funny, resilient 13 year old that has been in foster care since a young age. Early in life, Damien was diagnosed with kidney disease. He has been on daily dialysis for many years, awaiting a transplant. Due to his additional medical needs, finding a lasting home for Damien has been a significant challenge. He has spent much of his life living alone in the hospital for many months at a time (during these times, he is unable to leave the hospital to attend school due to hospital liability issues). If he had a consistent home during his life, he almost certainly would have received a transplant long ago. Unfortunately, lack of stable housing has kept him from being eligible when matching kidneys became available. This past summer, Damien was able to move in with a relative and began attending the school where I teach.  Although he has significant health challenges, he is an excellent student and a kind, generous, and motivated human being. He excelled at school, and his mental and physical health improved. These improvements allowed him to be approved by his medical team to be placed back on the transplant list - a move that meant he was likely only a few weeks or months from receiving a kidney that would make so much more possible for his life. A few weeks before the winter holiday, the relative he was staying with had to make the difficult decision to return him to county custody. Having a typical 13 year old in your home can be a significant challenge for anyone, and Damien's additional needs proved too much for his caregiver. He spent the next several months, including the winter holidays, living in the hospital. Once again, he was removed from the transplant list due to lack of stable housing. Damien has learned to be very independent and tends to keep his difficulties to himself, but he told me about his circumstances a few days before returning to the hospital. Unable to keep his challenges off my heart and mind, I began the personal journey of considering taking on his care.

A couple months later, Damien is now living with me, going back to school, and was just recently relisted on the kidney transplant list. Over the last several months, I have taken much time off of work to be trained to care for his special medical and dietary needs, as much of this care occurs in the home. Until I am able to complete foster care certification (a 6 to 8 month process), his placement has been without financial support. The initial expense of creating space for a special needs child in my home has been considerable. I am anticipating additional expenses (clothing, special dietary needs, increase in transportation costs for appointments, increased time off work, etc.) over the next several months until I am able to begin receiving financial assistance for his care. I am committed to not being another adult that lets Damien down in his life. Although I have no doubt this will be very challenging, my experience working with this age group makes me uniquely equipped to deal with some of the typical challenges of caring for a pre-teen. I am asking for support to help alleviate the financial stress that will be a part of this transition over the next several months to make sure I am able to provide Damien with a home that will allow him to get healthy and become the incredible world-changing individual he has the potential to be. Damien and I thank you for your support!

*** Many generous folks have inquired about becoming a live kidney donor for Damien. If you or someone you know would like to consider this possibility, here is the process:

1. Visit http://www.uchealthlivingdonor.org/ 
2.  Select "Living Kidney Donor"
3. Fill in your personal details
4. To protect Damien's privacy, the hospital has agreed to allow the following for "Recipient" information:
        FIRST NAME: Damien
        LAST NAME: Children's Hospital
        BIRTH DATE: Leave this field blank
5. Complete the survey that follows and you will be contacted for additional testing if you are an initial match

Thank you so much for considering such an incredible gift.

Hear more about Damien's story here and here.

Funds raised beyond providing for Damien's immediate needs will be established in a trust to help secure Damien's education and any future medical expenses.


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About 3 weeks ago, Damien got a new kidney! We are home from the hospital and Damien is doing great. His kidney is working really well and his dietary and fluid restrictions have been lifted. He is eating like it's the first time in years his food tastes good (which it is!), he has a lot more energy (which he is using for anything except chores), and we are both enjoying the freedom to spend a lot more time of out the house. Last weekend, we traveled to Kansas so Damien could meet my family for the first time, and the trip was great! The safety net that has been created by the generous support of so many people has made this time much simpler for both of us. We very much appreciate the kindness so many have shown.
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These generous showings of support have been life-changing. Damien and I are incredibly grateful for the many people who have stepped up to offer words of encouragement, stories of their own struggles and successes with organ transplant, childhood illness, kidney disease, or foster care, and many gifts and donations. These various levels of encouragement have begun to sink in to Damien who is showing new confidence and optimism with each passing day.

Many folks have inquired about finding out if they or someone they know might be a match for Damien as a live kidney donor. Here is the process for answering that question:

1. Visit http://www.uchealthlivingdonor.org/
2. Select "Living Kidney Donor"
3. Fill in your personal details
4. To protect Damien's privacy, the hospital has agreed to allow the following for "Recipient" information:
FIRST NAME: Damien
LAST NAME: Children's Hospital
BIRTH DATE: Leave this field blank
5. Complete the survey that follows and you will be contacted for additional testing if you are an initial match

We both are so very grateful for each of you. Best of everything to you!
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Over the last several days, the surge of support has been incredible. At the end of the school year, when both teachers and students are already at their thinnest, the support of so many who we know and don't know couldn't have come at a better time. Damien deserves, at the very least, to have a place he can call home, and these funds will make furnishing our home possible. Additional funds raised will be used to provide opportunities Damien hasn't been able to access for the last several years including cooking classes and maybe a family vacation once he is healed from transplant. These funds make our life logistically simpler, but, more than that, the support and warm wishes keep us moving forward. Thank you to everyone!
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One week ago, Damien was relisted on the kidney transplant list! This is a very exciting development that has been years in the making. He has worked hard to comply with many restrictive medical and lifestyle directives in order to achieve this milestone. A couple days ago, we got a call that a matching kidney from a deceased donor was found. We spent the next 12 hours preparing for surgery and getting excited about life after transplant. Unfortunately, a few hours before surgery, the donor kidney was discovered to be damaged. We are back to waiting. Although we do not wish for the events that lead to a donor kidney becoming available, we are hopeful that another match will be available soon.
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$84,347 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 2,096 people in 5 months
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