Aaron LeBlanc is seen at Maine Medical Center where he had a port removed on Tuesday, July 23. He hopes to soon be approved for a kidney transplant now that his kidneys are no longer working properly. Submitted photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REGION — Kidney disease may be impacting the quality of life for people who don’t even know it.

Aaron LeBlanc of Canaan is a prime example. The 20–year old was visiting his grandparents in Wilton when he became sick. Family members at first thought it was related to a shunt he has had in place for years and that revising that would resolve the issue.

After numerous tests, his parents were told his kidneys had atrophied, were full of scarring and had a 0.00% chance of recovering. Aaron began dialysis three times a week and is going through the process to get on the transplant list.

Aaron’s father Andy LeBlanc said, “We were told ultimately it is a preemie related issue. When a person is born, the kidneys stop developing. We were lucky with Aaron’s lung development. Twenty years on, we’re not so lucky with his kidney development.”

According to the National Kidney Foundation, data analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that one in seven American adults, or 30 million people, are estimated to have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). Ninety–six percent of those with early kidney disease (stages 1 and 2) don’t even know they have CKD. And of those with severely reduced kidney function, (stage 4) but not on dialysis, 48%, are not aware of having the disease.

Some other important findings are that women are more likely than men to be affected by CKD, (16% vs. 13%), but men are 64% more likely than women to progress to end stage renal disease (ESRD), the stage when kidneys stop working and dialysis or a transplant is needed just to stay alive. An estimated 15% of Hispanics have CKD and Hispanics are 35% more likely than non-Hispanics to progress to ESRD. In addition, CKD is estimated to be more common in non-Hispanic blacks (18%) than in non-Hispanic whites (13%).

The higher estimate in the number of Americans affected by chronic kidney disease is due to several factors including differences in study time frames, methodologies and populations, an aging population and increased prevalence of risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension.

1 in 3 American adults are at risk for kidney disease. Risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and family history.

Also of concern is that babies born at less than 37 weeks have a nearly twofold increased risk of developing CKD from childhood into mid-adulthood. Published May 1 in The BMJ (Formerly The British Medical Journal), the study found preterm and early term birth are strong risk factors for the development of CKD, with a threefold increased risk for those born at less than 28 weeks, and a small increased risk in those born before their due date but after 37 weeks.

The study’s researchers used a database of 4,186,615 singleton live births in Sweden from 1973 to 2014, following the people into mid-adulthood. The analysis, in BMJ, found 4,305 cases of CKD. The researchers calculated that for each week of prematurity, the risk for chronic kidney disease increased by 4%.

The study controlled for many maternal health and behavioral characteristics, and the increased risk was not found in the full-term siblings of premature babies who developed kidney disease. This suggests that environmental or genetic characteristics do not explain the difference.

“Although the absolute risks are low, people who are born prematurely still have increased susceptibility to kidney disease,” said the lead author, Dr. Casey Crump, a professor of family medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “These findings show that people born prematurely need long-term monitoring, and must be particularly careful to try to avoid hypertension, diabetes and the heavy use of anti-inflammatory medicines, which are all risk factors for kidney disease.”

Aaron LeBlanc was born prematurely and spent several weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Maine Medical Center.

Mom Amy LeBlanc said Aaron had episodes of bed wetting when he was seven or eight.

“He was spilling a lot of protein. My mom was a lab technician. She said ‘you need to pay attention to this.’ The doctor said it would pass,” she said. “Now I ask myself if this has been going on for ten years.”

The good news for Aaron is that he has cleared his dental check.

According to his mom’s Facebook page, “Apparently, the kid who’s zero kidney function had a mouth full of absolutely, cavity free, tarter free, and plaque free teeth.”

Next up are a psychiatric exam, then the final evaluation appointment, September 10.

“After those clearances we’ll be ready to have his case presented to the transplant team at Maine Med. We knew there was a potential donor who had been interested in donation but it wasn’t until the last few days that we were told that person had made it through the first phase of the process. They drew a lot of blood from Aaron and some of it was for cross matching with the donor. Fingers crossed at this point,” Amy said Monday, August 5.

If things go as hoped, Aaron could have the transplant later this fall or early winter. Before then the LeBlanc’s home needs to be repainted to help protect his immune system.

Following the transplant, Aaron’s family will be facing a lot of traveling. The first 6 weeks they will be going back and forth to Portland four days a week. After that it will be twice a week for a month, then once a week for a year, with other appointments mixed in. Follow–up care is non-negotiable for kidney patients.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for those wishing to help with expenses.

filed under: