A parent’s love is uncompromised. Erin (Luckas) Brown, a 2003 graduate of North Royalton High School, and her husband, Jeff, have been undergoing lab testing and bloodwork since September to discover if either one of them would be a good match to donate a kidney to help save their son’s life.
The couple’s son, Lukas, 21 months old, was born in 2017 with end-stage kidney disease. At birth, it was learned that Lukas’ kidneys were functioning at just 20 percent.
The family, now living in North Carolina, has endured an agonizing journey watching their infant son undergo weeks in the NICU at Levine Children’s Hospital, on dialysis, getting multiple surgeries, regular bloodwork and creatinine levels testing. Pending the results of a month-end CAT scan, Erin may be Lukas’ donor, said Lukas’ aunt, Kristen Hunker, a third-grade teacher in Brunswick who contacted the Royalton Recorder about her nephew’s story.
To assist with medical expenses, which won’t stop following the transplant surgery, the family has started a fund-raising campaign via The Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA). It is the nation’s only fund-raising organization solely dedicated to raising dollars in honor of children and young adults in need of life-saving transplants.
“Lukas will be on anti-rejection medications for his whole life and many medical expenses will not be picked up by his insurance,” Hunker said.
Several local fund-raisers are also in the works and dates are still being determined.
“When you look at Luke, you wouldn’t be able to tell that he is sick or needs a kidney to save his life,” said his mother Erin via Facebook. “There have been many ups and downs and Luke has several scars to prove the tough journey he has endured. He is the strongest, happiest boy you will ever meet. He has brought so much happiness and love to our lives.”
Lukas was officially placed on the kidney donor transplant list last fall. He will need more than one transplant in his lifetime, Erin said.
Following his transplant surgery, Lukas will be in the intensive care unit, sedated, for several weeks for observation and monitoring to make sure his body is adjusting properly to his new kidney, Hunker said. Recovery for the donor is approximately six weeks. The Browns also have a five-year-old daughter.
“Luke has weekly physical, speech and occupational therapy appointments,” Erin said. “He meets with his nephrologist every month for lab work. He will have chronic kidney disease forever and will need more than one kidney transplant in his lifetime.”
Despite their daily hardships, the family remains positive and prayerful. Following his transplant surgery, the toddler still has an uphill battle of special diets, medications and immunosuppression, Erin said.
“It’s been hard,” Hunker said of her nephew’s journey. “We’re not down there with them (in North Carolina) but we try to be as supportive as we all can from afar and that’s why it’s so important to plan these local fund-raising events. Luckily, there is a lot of positivity and prayers that lift their spirits.”
To learn more about Lukas and his needs, visit https://cota.org/campaigns/cotaforteamlukas. All monies raised will be used for medical purposes.
Contributing Writer