From the moment Dawson was born I learned that I would need to take life one day at a time in order to be strong for my family. I can tell you without a doubt it was not easy to think that way initially.
Dawson was born on March 20, 2000. That day his father Patrick and I heard the doctors discussing the option of starting him on dialysis. He weighed seven pounds, 12 ounces. Dawson was born with a condition called posterior urethral valves. His kidneys were underdeveloped and did not create urine. Dawson needed CHEO’s help.
For his first four years CHEO was a lifeline for Dawson. Time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, surgeries, medications and plenty of appointments were needed to ensure that Dawson’s kidneys functioned. With the help of his nephrologist, Dr. Janusz Feber, Dawson became a candidate for a kidney transplant.
I did not hesitate for one second to be his donor. I was tested and was a match. How could I not? I would, and will do, anything to save my son’s life!
Keep strong. Never lose hope. That’s our motto. That motto was put to the test. For eight years we lived a somewhat normal life. Dawson still had to take anti-rejection drugs daily and lots of blood tests but thankfully his day-to-day consisted of school and making friends.
Then in 2012 tests showed his kidney function was decreasing. His amazing doctors gave him two options: dialysis three days a week at CHEO or at home seven nights a week.
Dawson chose nightly at home, called peritoneal dialysis. It’s a lot of work to prepare and get him hooked up. But it means his daytime life is not disrupted. He goes to school and hangs with his friends and then every night from 7:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. he is attached to his dialysis machine. It is what keeps his body functioning while he waits for a transplant.
That’s right. Dawson needs another kidney transplant. To look at him you really can’t tell he is sick on the inside. Outwardly Dawson is a happy, super positive 16 year old. Inside, he is very sick. Having to undergo dialysis isn’t easy on him. He suffers from chest pain, muscle spasms, diet restrictions and more. There are many side effects to kidney failure.
That’s where supportive donors like you can come in. Your generous gift today means my son receives amazing care at CHEO. Please consider renewing your gift today.
You can provide hope to patients at CHEO. What we are going through is tough but with CHEO’s support we feel lucky. When we have to spend nights at CHEO, we laugh, literally. Staff members do what they can to make my son smile and laugh. You can’t know what that means when you spend your nights worrying about the future.
Humour is our medicine some days. When Dawson looks at me and says, “I’m tired of being Dawson,” I reply with, “Would you like me to call you Mike?” We laugh together. I know what he really means of course. Waiting for a kidney donor is hard. But while we wait we will laugh together. You see, we are each other’s superheroes.
You can be a superhero too. Please support CHEO and the many patients that need you, especially at this time of year.
I look forward to the day we get to report back that my son has a new kidney and no longer needs dialysis. Wouldn’t that be a special gift?
P.S. Please consider becoming a monthly donor. Your gift will help CHEO kids each and every day.