BUFFALO, NY- March is National Kidney Month, which is a great time to consider giving perhaps the most important gift you can ever give - the gift of life.
A North Buffalo teenager is hoping someone out there is his perfect match, and is willing to give a piece of him or herself to give him a future.
Leontae Parker, a 15-year-old Enterprise Charter School student, has spent most of his life in the hospital.
He was a healthy baby, but after an oral surgery at 4-years-old Leontae's body swelled up. His mother, Rebecca Brooks, knew something was terribly wrong.
"I came here to Children's Hospital - the emergency room - and I just let them know, 'I'm not leaving until you tell me what's wrong with my son.' They did a lot of blood work and came back an hour later and said, 'did you know Leontae had a kidney disease?,'" said Brooks.
Leontae was in kidney failure.
"Leontae has end stage kidney disease - kidney failure- which means to survive he either needs a kidney transplant or long-term dialysis," said Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo Chief of Pediatric Nephrology Dr. Wayne Waz.
For the last decade, Dr. Wayne Waz and others have tried everything to help Leontae, who was also diagnosed with Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). In 2009 he did have a kidney transplant from a deceased donor, but a day later, the kidney failed.
"He ended up having to have a full nephrectomy. All of his kidneys are removed. Leontae doesn't have any kidneys as we speak," said Parker.
So 3 hours a day, 3 times a week, Leontae receives dialysis at Children's Hospital to keep him alive. Between the time commitment to treatment, fluid and dietary restrictions, and exhaustion, it's no way for any boy to spend his childhood.
"I would like to be a cop or a football or basketball player. I really just want to live my life again," said Leontae.
To have that chance at life, Leontae needs a kidney from a living donor with type O blood. His doctor says the time is now.
"The knowledge that we have about transplanting people with his disease has gotten a lot better and we're much more likely to be able to treat it. Even if he does have a recurrence of his native disease in this transplant kidney we have better tools to fight it off."
Rebecca is desperate to save her son. She works 3 jobs to provide for her family and doesn't want hand-outs.
"I do all I can for him, he doesn't want for anything."
But the one thing that he needs is the one thing she can't give him.
"It's hard, because you feel helpless," she said.
"Every single night when I'm in bed, just looking up at my ceiling, I'm just praying, hoping that someone will give me a kidney," said Leontae.
"Leontae is a wonderful kid who just wants the most out of life. He wants to do so many great things and I just want him to have a chance to do them."
Rebecca calls her son her hero, and now he needs a hero of his own. Leontae has a profile that you can check out on the Kidney Connection's website. Kidney Connection is a local organization that helps bring potential living kidney donors and recipients together.
There is also a benefit and donor drive planned for Leontae on Thursday, March 23 from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. at Enterprise Charter School, 275 Oak Street, Buffalo, NY 14203. The $25 donation includes music, entertainment and refreshments. Sponsorships are also available. For tickets and information, call 716-472-6441.
You can also donate to Leontae on a Go Fund Me page established for him. Click here for that page.
Again, anyone in good health with type O blood can be tested at ECMC to see if they are a match for Leontae Parker. Call ECMC at 716-898-6283.