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Match still needed for 8-year-old in need of kidney transplant

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By Kathryn Jacewicz, Staff writer

Eight-year-old Jarrod Danka is still looking for a lifesaver, after two potential kidney transplant donors have been deemed incompatible.

Jarrod has lived with kidney disease all his life and was diagnosed with multicystic dysplasia of the kidney (MCDK), where cysts form in the kidney and interfere with the organ’s function

His doctors deemed him transplant ready in January, when his kidneys were functioning at a 20.25 percent rate. Most dialysis patients undergo treatments every few days, but in Jarrod’s case, he would have to endure dialysis treatments every night for 10-12 hours while he slept. The doctor feared it would be too physical straining on his small body.

The family needed to find a live donor rather than a cadaver organ who had type O blood like Jarrod, ranging in age from 18-60, be in good physical condition and not suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, kidney or heart disease.

Insurance will only pay to test three people at a time, Tracey Danka, Jarrod’s mother, said. Three family members were tested and deemed potential donors after their blood was cross-matched with Jarrod’s.

The family then decided which one would begin the tests necessary to be a donor. Jarrod’s cousin, Nathan, was the first to volunteer. He underwent the necessary tests, but doctors found an issue with his liver while running a liver panel test. He was deemed ineligible to donate.

“They have to be 100 percent healthy,” Danka said.

The next relative tested was told she had clotting issues in her arteries. While the doctors gave her blood thinners for the clotting, it made her ineligible to donate.

“Obviously, we were devastated,” Danka said. “But everything works out for a reason.”

The family has one final potential match who started testing this week. The tests take between three and four weeks to complete, but if they come back positive, the transplant could take place by the end of June.

“We’re hoping within four weeks they can get all the testing done,” Danka said. “It was just such a disappointment the first time. You never think lightning will strike twice in the same place, but it does.”

If the third relative tested proves to be ineligible, Jarrod’s doctors will likely consider surgery in preparation for dialysis. Jarrod’s kidneys are functioning slightly less than the 20.25 percent rate he was at several months ago.

“Fifteen percent [functioning rate] is failure. Normally, you have the surgery at 20 [percent]. It’s just not in his best interest right now,” Tracey Danka said. “We’ll do what we have to do, and Jarrod will survive and our faith will carry us.”

Jarrod is looking forward to the transplant, but has not gotten upset that the potential matches are ineligible to donate. He’s grateful to be able to finish the school year and looks forward to going to the water park a few times before the tentative June surgery.

“He’s obviously as positive as ever,” Danka said, unable to hide her own disappointment.

“We thought it was such a miracle, and it was that all three of them matched,” she said. “Our faith is stronger than our circumstance. It’s still in God’s hands.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP

The family is hosting a cocktail party and Chinese auction at 7 p.m. Friday, June 12, at the Brunswick Plantation Clubhouse. The $25 per person admission price includes admission, live entertainment, beverages and hors d’oeuvres.

Monetary donations can be made to the “Jarrod Danka Transplant Fund,” at the Horry County State Bank, P.O. Box 4269, N. Myrtle Beach, SC 29579

For tickets or more information, contact Tracey Danka at 579-2143 or (843) 455-0243.