Sean Menard's kidneys have been failing since birth, due to a congenital abnormality. It was at the point where Sean would have needed dialysis had he not received a new kidney soon. Here is Sean's story, as told by his mother, Jeannie Menard:
(Describe what Sean's life has been like) We got Sean when he was 7 weeks old, and we knew he had kidney problems. One of his kidneys was removed when he was 6 months old, and the other one never functioned properly, and has gotten worse over time. He has ADHD, has other learning problems and physical limitations, all of which are due in some part to his poor kidney functioning. He wasn't feeling good and couldn't go outside and play for more than 10 minutes before coming in because he was tired. As a parent you wonder what it would be like for him to be healthy and do the things other kids are doing and not be in so much pain.
(How did Sean get involved in the kidney exchange) Julie Davitt was one of Sean's teachers' aides in kindergarten. When she found out that Sean needed a kidney, she told me that she and her husband Emmet were going to get tested to see if they were a match. They weren't, but the transplant team asked if Emmet would be willing to be part of a multi-donor exchange that would result in Sean getting a kidney. They told me "We don't care what you say, we're going to do this." [Emmet donated a kidney to Carl Lichtman as a part of this exchange.] I can't even imagine people like Julie and Emmet being so willing to give a kidney to others. It's amazing.
(What was Sean's reaction when he found out about the exchange?) He kept saying "I'm getting a new kidney," and had a smile from ear to ear when he said it. He's a tough kid who has been through a lot, and to see him this excited was a great thing.
(How did you feel about Sean having his procedure at UMMC?) I wouldn't have come anyplace else. [UMMC chief of pediatric surgery] Dr. [Roger] Voigt has performed all of Sean's surgeries and he, along with Dr. [Susan] Mendley and the rest of the pediatric nephrology team, kept him alive all these years.
(How will receiving this kidney impact your and Sean's lives?) I've often dreamed about what it would be like for Sean to be truly healthy, and he now has that chance. His quality of life had slipped so much over the years, but now there's a whole new world out there for him.