LOTS OF PEOPLE CHOOSE A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE FOR THEMSELVES, BUT MICHELLE AND HUSBAND SCOTT LOWRY WAKE UP EVERYDAY KNOWING THAT THEY HAVE TO BE AS FIT AND HEALTHY FOR THEIR SON AS POSSIBLE. THIS WAY, WHEN IT COMES TIME TO HAVE HIS KIDNEY TRANSPLANT, THEY MAY BE ABLE TO DONATE AN ORGAN TO HIM.
The Lowry family is a local Gladstone family, Michelle is a Youth Support Coordinator at a local high school and Scott works for a local earthworks company. They have two sons, Jarrod, 14, and Ben, 7, both born in Gladstone. Ben has a kidney disease and will need a transplant at some stage in the future.
Michelle said ‘Ben has always had a few niggly health issues. We found out when he was two that he had small kidneys and they just wanted to monitor that over time.’
It wasn’t until August last year, where we saw a new paediatrician in Rocky, who did a full health check and talked about Ben’s kidneys. He did tests in August; two weeks later he got the results, asked us to come straight in, and it was there he said, “You’re going to Brisbane, you need to go to the Lady Cilento under the Renal Specialist Team immediately.” It turns out 7-year-old Ben has a kidney disease.
Between August and October, he was back and forth between Rockhampton and Brisbane, in and out of hospital having tests done. It turns out that his left kidney is 20% the size it should be and his right kidney 5% the size it should be.
They never developed. One is at 56.3% function; other is at 43.7% function. His kidneys are working flat out and they are going to wear out. He will need at least one transplant in his lifetime, Michelle and Scott don’t know if that’s going to be next year, in 5, 10 or 20 years, it’s just an unpredictable waiting game.
The news has hit the family hard, with growing concerns about his health and their own. Every day you can see him struggle, if he gets a cold he’s down for the count because his body can’t fight things as much as a normal person. It’s an everyday struggle for Ben and very difficult for all around him.
The plan is to keep monitoring his kidneys. When he hits 30% function, he will go on Dialysis. When he hits 10% function, that’s when they will put him on the transplant list and the doctors will discuss what transplant options are.
Kidney transplantation is typically classified as deceased-donor or livingdonor transplantation depending on the source of the donor organ. The stats are good, with kidney transplants being very successful. Over 94% of transplants are working one year later.
If you have someone who is going to be a living donor, they will need to undergo a number of tests to determine if they are healthy enough to give a kidney, which is what fuels this family’s daily desire to be in peak health when the time for these tests does come.
Michelle and Scott have taken this on as a strong family unit and decided that they all are going to do their best to put in 100% to stay fit and healthy. As a family, the mission is to stay as healthy as possible and that means they do outrigging as a family (it’s non-contact so Ben is allowed to do that). They also run marathons.
Michelle said ‘we just have to keep very fit and healthy because if it comes to crunch both want to be healthy enough to donate to our son if we can.’
Michelle is very passionate about raising awareness for donation. She knows that one day they may need to rely on the kindness of a stranger and their family giving the ultimate gift.
“People need to have a conversation about it. You can’t make people do it so the more they know the better.”
I believe we need to make an opt out system, not an opt in. Lots of people are happy to donate but they just don’t know how or haven’t registered. Until that changes I urge people to take a minute and medicate card and register at donatelife.gov.au