I was very young when my brother Matthew was born, but I still remember so much of what happened from the time he was born, through the transplant, and of course after. My brother is by far the kindest, most compassionate human being I have ever met. When people ask me about him, I always say he is the best person I know. I am writing this for him because he deserves everything this world has to offer, this is for Matthew. This is his story.
Matthew was born on January 21st 1999, on our mother’s birthday. He was born 3 months premature, weighed only 3 pounds and was the size of our father’s palm. He was suppose to be one of three triplets but our mother lost the other two babies earlier in the pregnancy. Matthew was born with Kidney Dysplasia, more specifically renal dysplasia pseudo-prune belly syndrome . Kidney dysplasia is a condition that occurs during development when the internal structures of either, one or both, kidneys do not form properly leaving the babies with little to no kidney function. Pseudo-prune belly syndrome is when half of abdominal wall does not form correctly and the fetus is left with little or no abdominal muscles. Both of Matthew’s kidneys did not form properly and babies with this condition are said to be “incompatible with life”. These babies often pass away shortly after birth as there is nothing doctors can do to save them at that point. Matthew wasn’t suppose to live after birth. My parents did not put him on life support, or even oxygen because they did not want to force any outcome that was not suppose to happen. My parents didn’t want him to suffer. They called the coroner, they picked out a tiny coffin and the outfit he would be laid to rest in. Matthew was given his all of his blessings and his last rites. Everyone was prepared for the worst, but Matthew wanted to fight, he wanted live. We were blessed with a miracle.
Matthew continued to baffle every doctor at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as he survived week after week. He eventually was able to come home and my family had nurses at our house day and night to help with anything Matthew needed. Just before he was put on dialysis, to help what little kidney function he had continue to work, he suffered 3 grand mal seizures. I am glad I can’t remember seeing these happen. The doctors told us he could receive a kidney when he would turn one year old. He would be the youngest kidney transplant that CHOP had ever performed at that time. My parents searched for a donor that matched for Matthew. When it came time, my beautiful, strong, selfless mother donated one of her kidneys to my brother.
The transplant was a huge success. My mom, Lorna, made a full recovery and so did Matthew. He was put on 24 different medications twice a day and would go to CHOP every few weeks for blood work and different tests. He still takes 8 medications twice a day to make sure his body does not reject his kidney. The transplant saved him and gave him the opportunity to live a semi-normal life. Over the years since his transplant, he has had to have countless EPOGEN shots due to chronic kidney disease, growth hormone shots, blood transfusions to help raise his hemoglobin levels and a few overnight hospital stays. Despite these setbacks he continued to wake up every single day with a smile on his face and continued to pick back up right where he left off. He graduated from Pennridge High School in June 2018 with straight A’s, a couple of awards under his belt and as a member of the National Honors Society. Matthew is now in the later stages of chronic kidney failure. My mother’s kidney is now failing and his kidney is functioning at less than 20 percent. We are currently searching for a donor with an O blood type for his second life saving transplant.
I admire my younger brother immensely. He is the strongest person I know and never has once complained about anything he has had to go through. I wish I could be even half of the person he is. So I thank every single person who has helped in anyway to bring awareness to his story. One of the greatest gifts one could ever give, is the gift of life.