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
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.