ST. CHARLES – Local teenager Sam Shaw hopes to have a new kidney by the time school starts so that he can resume his full schedule of academic and extracurricular activities as a senior at St. Charles North High School this fall.
The Shaw family of St. Charles is seeking a kidney donor for a kidney for Sam Shaw, whose only kidney is failing.
Sam Shaw’s mother, Caroline Shaw, said her son was born with two kidneys but one failed when he was young. The other kidney was not in the best shape, but took on the job of two and did pretty well until teen growth, she added.
Unfortunately, after Caroline Shaw and her husband went through the donor screening process they found that neither of them were a match.
The screening process involves several steps that include the initial contact from a potential donor expressing interest, screening questions, completion of a donor health questionnaire and documentation of their blood type, lab work for compatibility testing, and donor evaluation at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
“This process ensures that the donated kidney is a good match for the recipient, as well as to make sure that the person donating is healthy enough to do so,” said Katie Jones, kidney pre-transplant coordinator at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
Despite Sam Shaw’s health issues and many trips to the hospital recently, he still was able to study for final exams and practice for several school band performances.
In late May, Sam Shaw played trombone in the St. Charles North Spring Gala at Elgin Community College and at the District 303 Band-a-rama at Wredling Middle School. Sam also played trombone in the St. Charles North Jazz Showcase at the Q Center in St. Charles on June 1 and at the St. Charles North commencement ceremony at Northern Illinois University on June 3.
“Fortunately, thanks to a whole team of specialists at Lurie hospital, and many protective prescriptions, Sam has felt well enough to be physically active, have an unweighted GPA of 4.8, do weekly Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra rehearsals in Chicago, and volunteer for extra pep band, Tri-M National Music Honor Society and ‘Shrek’ pit,” his mother said.
Sam Shaw hopes to obtain a transplant and recover before his senior year starts in August, so he can avoid the quality of life limitations of dialysis and focus on preparing for college.
If a suitable live donor isn’t found, Sam Shaw also is now on the kidney donor list, meaning he is eligible to obtain a kidney from someone who dies that is determined to be a match. Rather than face uncertainty and waiting, Caroline Shaw hopes “a hero comes forward.”
She posted a letter on Facebook in May about Sam Shaw’s need for a kidney donor, starting it by saying, “Will you save a life this summer? If your blood type is O-positive and you are over 18 years old, please consider being a living kidney donor for Sam Shaw.”
Since then, the Facebook posting has had almost 400 shares from people, including several who took the first step of contacting Lurie hospital.
Donors cannot have diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity. In general, kidney donors can go on to resume a very normal lifestyle with one kidney, Jones said.
Anyone who would like to be considered as a possible kidney donor for Sam Shaw may contact Jones at Lurie hospital by phone at 312-227-6551 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.