Community

A plea for help

The Wallace family, left to right, Layton, 6, Tanis, Coen, 3, and Chris, take a moment to enjoy the sunshine in the back yard of their North Saanich home. The family is hoping to find a live kidney donor for Coen. - Devon MacKenzie/News staff
The Wallace family, left to right, Layton, 6, Tanis, Coen, 3, and Chris, take a moment to enjoy the sunshine in the back yard of their North Saanich home. The family is hoping to find a live kidney donor for Coen.
— image credit: Devon MacKenzie/News staff

Looking at bright eyed, smiling Coen Wallace is like looking at any other two-year-old.

But the difference between Coen and any other little boy is that he has never lived a day in his short life without being hooked up to a machine.

Coen, who lives with his mother Tanis, father Chris and brother Layton in North Saanich, was born with kidneys that didn’t function.

“It was literally a few days after he was born that he was hooked up to dialysis,” explained Tanis. “He has never known what its like to live without being hooked up to machines or tubes, but he’s a trooper.”

Coen has been in and out of Children’s Hospital in Vancouver for the last two years and currently spends 12 hours, from the evening through the night, hooked up to the dialysis machine the Wallaces have in their home. Tanis and Chris take turns monitoring the machine throughout the wee hours of the night, listening for the machine’s alarm to tell them if anything is going wrong.

“Basically the dialysis machine alarms if something isn’t working properly,” explained Chris. “It used to alarm a couple of times through the night and we could get up and turn Coen in bed and check him, but now it’s alarming about once an hour and that’s how we knew something was wrong.”

The machine’s hourly reminder was indicating that Coen’s body was not responding to the dialysis as well as it should be.

“We’re at the point now where we’ve lived with this for over two years, so it became routine and we just went through the motions every day,” said Tanis. “But now we’re actually worried because we know the dialysis isn’t working as well as it should and we know that time isn’t on our side in terms of finding him a kidney.”

Coen is currently on a list to receive transplant surgery, but after the disappointment of finding out the only family member who was a blood match to the young boy’s O-type blood wasn’t able to donate a kidney because her kidneys only functioned at 75 per cent, the family has been left with no choice but to start looking farther afield.

“It’s so hard because how do you go about asking for an organ?” said Tanis. “But we’re at the point where we are desperate and time is of the essence.”

Coen’s body is able to take an adult kidney, she added, even though it isn’t ideal, but doctors say his best chance of surviving is to get a live kidney rather than one from a deceased donor.

“At the moment, the doctors are saying it needs to be before he turns three in January,” Chris said. “But the testing to find out of possible donors are a match can take as long as five weeks so we need to find one fast.”

To find out more about live organ donation, call 1-877-922-9822 or email donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca.

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