GOOD NEWS! To read the good news about Blake, click "NEXT" toward the bottom of the page, below the photo of his family. CONGRATULATIONS, BLAKE!
Meet Blake Loudenber. He is a 9-year-old from Griffith, Indiana, who has been waiting nearly 8 years for a second kidney transplant. Blake was born with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), a hereditary disease in which cysts form on the kidneys, crowding out healthy tissue. Infants born with PKD have a low survival rate. Thankfully, Blake has overcome many odds and will be turning 10 in April, 2013. When he was born, doctors had no hope of Blake surviving. One doctor wanted to send him home to die, but another doctor believed his life could be saved by dialysis. At 3 weeks old, Blake was the youngest patient ever to receive dialysis at the University of Chicago Hospital. It saved his life.
At age 2, Blake received his first kidney transplant. He did well for a short while but then became very ill—so ill that he could not even lift his head, cry, or talk. His family in despair, Blake lay dying. Still, even while watching his little soul dwindle away, Blake's family remained hopeful.
One day, Blake took an even further turn for the worse. While sitting at a counter eating, he fell over, nearly hitting the floor. He was unresponsive, and when the ambulance arrived, the EMT's ran in and immediately ran out with Blake. They rushed him to Community Hospital in Munster, Indiana. The doctors told his family that nothing more could be done. Blake was dying. His little body was filled with toxins that had put his body into shock. Finally, doctors decided to air lift him to the University of Chicago Hospital. However, they told Blake's family members to say their goodbyes, as he probably would not make it there. The family watched Blake take off, thinking it was the last time they'd see him alive--then drove to Chicago in silence.
Because Blake was unable to breath on his own, he was intubated during the helicopter transport. Arriving at the hospital, he was rushed inside immediately. Cindy, Blake’s grandmother and caregiver, spent the night with him. Around 5:00AM, something amazing happened: Blake began breathing on his own a bit! Things were beginning to look up for this precious toddler. It took a long time, but Blake eventually pulled through. The doctors said it was a true miracle.
Blake went back on dialysis and was again placed on the waiting list for a deceased donor. Because of his age, he was placed near the top of the list; still, Blake has been waiting 8 years--longer than any child ever treated at the University of Chicago Hospital. The primary reason is that the body of a transplant patient produces antibodies that will cause rejection of most foreign tissues. Blake's antibodies shot sky high after his first transplant, making it extremely difficult-- though not impossible--for his body to accept another organ. Initially, Blake’s aunt Kylee appeared to be a match, but further tissue tests confirmed that Blake's body would reject Kylee's kidney.
During this years-long wait, Blake has suffered many infections. Most are caused by his dialysis catheter and are very hard to clear up. During Christmas, 2011, he had a near-fatal infection that put him in the hospital for a month. Blake has had countless surgeries and blood transfusions—which, unfortunately, create more antibodies. He takes a great many oral and injectable medications daily.
A severe reaction to steroids at age 3, along with ongoing fluid retention typical of kidney patients cause weight issues for Blake. As if that weren't enough, because of a severe reaction to growth hormones, his growth plates have nearly closed, and he has not grown since age 4. If he does not have a transplant before these plates close completely, he will remain 3 ½ feet tall for life...which could conceivably shorten his life as well.
When most of us send our children to bed each night, we have them brush their teeth and take care of nighttime rituals. Blake, on the other hand, must be hooked up to a dialysis machine, which he must remain on for 11 hours. When he awakens the next day, he knows he cannot just jump out of bed and start his day. He has to finish dialysis and take medications before he can even get ready for school.
When Blake is able to play, he looks like a normal boy—running around and laughing as if he hasn't a care. He's a sports fan and loves participating in soccer, basketball, and baseball. He also enjoys bowling and hanging out with his large, loving family. Seven live at home; his aunts, who live nearby, visit and help care for Blake every day.
More than anything, Blake loves drawing rainbows and draws one for his grandmother, Cindy, every day. While his illness holds him back in many ways, his attitude is remarkable: When his Aunt Kelly asked what he would like to tell the world, he replied, “Everything is going to be ok.”
Blake needs a kidney immediately if he is to survive and live a near-normal life. Please help this little man find a living kidney donor...we need the smiles and rainbows he brings to the world each day.
Blake has Type O blood, but because the University of Chicago Hospital participates in paired donation, a person of ANY blood type is a potential donor. If you would like to see if you are eligible to donate to Blake, please visit the University of Chicago's web site and fill out the short questionnaire. Or, you may call his transplant coordinator, Kathy Davis, toll-free at 888-824-0200 or locally at 773-702-1000.
You can see additional pictures and learn more about Blake on his website, A Miracle for Blake, or his Facebook page by the same name. You can also read an article about Blake that his local newspaper published in 2012.
Thank you for reading Blake's story and for considering the possibility of donation. If you are unable to donate but would like to help you can do so by sharing his story with others.
Thanks ever so much! Blake's Family GOOD NEWS! To read the good news about Blake, click "NEXT" NEXT
Blake with his hero, Grandma!
Despite his hardships, Blake loves to make others smile.
Blake would like to be a doctor or a professional athlete, but unless he receives a transplant very soon, he will remain 42 inches tall for life.
Blake models the hat of Michael Crabtree, a U.S. Army vet who served in Afghanistan and visited Blake on his return home.
Blake looks up to Kenny Harris is more ways than one. Harris, a standout basketball player once bound for a professional career, knows something about hardship. While at Valparaiso University's athletic center in 2005, he collapsed and nearly died. Harris was unconscious for a month. He survived but was forced to give up competitive basketball. Nowadays, Kenny and Blake are buddies . . . both walking miracles.
Although Blake has had many volunteers, because he is such a difficult match, none of them has been a suitable donor.
Blake needs a miracle. Could it be you?