WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Every other day, for an indefinite amount of time, Matthew Errett's blood will be removed from his body, filtered and cycled back in.
The grueling four-and-a-half-hour process, known as hemodialysis, is the new normal for Errett and will sustain the 25-year-old through end-stage kidney failure as he desperately awaits a kidney transplant.
"We're learning how to hook him up and how to actually do the dialysis at the dialysis center," said Errett's mother, Carmen Caruth. "Then we'll graduate and do it from home."
It's been a roller coaster of hope for Errett, who contracted E. Coli as a toddler at a day-care outbreak in 1995 that led to his kidney failure.
Errett, who began dialysis last week, received an initial kidney transplant in 1996, later becoming legally blind at age 8 as a side effect to anti-rejection medications.
Now with about 10 percent kidney function and constant fatigue, the family is seeking a donor whose kidney donation would give Errett back the life he dreams of.
"He has not signed up to go back to school," his mother said of Errett, who was enrolled at Winston-Salem State University this past semester. "He really wants to try and focus on his health without the additional stress."
In April, a transplant surgery fell through after the 59-year-old prospective donor got kidney stones.
Since then, at least four other potential donors have come forward, but have been disqualified for medical reasons, Caruth said.
"For reasons relating to their health - high blood pressure, things like that - it didn't work out," said Caruth, human resources director for the city of Winston-Salem.
"We're actively looking for a donor."
Caruth noted that Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center doesn't report to them how many people have signed up to donate their kidney to Errett, as per HIPPA. The family is only aware of the potential donors who contacted them directly, she said.
"We know of one person who signed up and started going through the process, but because of her age, if she makes it through the medical testing part, she would not be donating directly to Matthew," Caruth said. "It would have to be through a paired donation program."
A paired donation would mean the woman who reached out to Caruth would donate her kidney to a stranger in need.
Someone on the stranger's end, who is compatible with Errett, would then donate his or her kidney to Errett in a kind of kidney swap.
But not everyone is eligible to be a kidney donor, and the woman, like any potential donor, must be screened for health issues before she could be considered.
In the meantime, Errett is on a national waiting list, but the family is still hoping for a donor who could give their kidney directly to Errett.
"I'm very hopeful that someone will see Matthew's needs and be willing to donate," Caruth said. "If there are four people out there willing to step forward, I have to have hope that there are others."
Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com
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