Willard teenager battling 3 kidney diseases

Cary Ashby • Updated Aug 27, 2018 at 10:34 PM

WILLARD — With medical bills piling up for her teenage son who has three kidney diseases, Laurie Bickers and her family are struggling financially.

Bickers, a mother of eight children, said she hopes an upcoming benefit dinner will help her pay those bills. A spaghetti dinner will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 23 at Eddie’s Club Bar, 1433 Lowell St., Elyria. The event will include a 50/50 and raffles. Donations will be accepted. 

“I need help; I don’t even have their school supplies,” said Bickers, whose family has two vehicles which aren’t fit to drive.

Also, donations can be made in Laurie Bickers’ name at any Civista Bank location.

It’s unknown how long her 15-year-old son Austin has had symptoms of kidney diseases — C3G, dense deposit and C5. His mother said one of them is potentially fatal within 10 years.

Laurie Bickers has had Stage-3 kidney failure for the last six months. She said the doctors haven’t told her that Austin’s diseases are hereditary.

“My son is not a candidate for a kidney transplant because it would infect his new kidney,” said Bickers, the mother of eight children, who range in age from 17 months to 15 years.

Just before school was out last year, Austin complained of belly pain.

“I didn’t know at first if it was nerves or what. (Then) his eyes started swelling,” his skin became yellow and his urine was dark with a yellow tint, his mother said. 

The teenager went to Fisher-Titus Medical Center on June 7. 

“The hospital then ran numerous blood tests (because) some serious and dangerous things were going on with his kidneys,” said his mother, who didn’t know that at the time. “The doctor had a distraught look on his face. I knew something was wrong if Fisher-Titus couldn’t handle it.

“They could not find out what was wrong,” Bickers added.

The boy then was transferred to the intensive care unit of ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital.

“The results of his kidney makers were highly alarming and very concerning. Toledo as well did test after test, blood work after blood work, and could not find what was causing his kidneys to fail. They knew he needed a kidney biopsy, but the nephrologist was not going to be in town to oversee the biopsy and the after-care,” his mother said.

After seeking a recommendation from a friend who is a nurse, Bickers decided to have her son transferred to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. That’s where he had a kidney biopsy.

“She used to work there for 17 years,” the mother said.

The results came back with the diagnosis of C3G, a kidney-related autoimmune disease, as well as dense deposit and C5 kidney diseases.

“Things are getting in his kidneys that shouldn’t be there,” Bickers said. “His system isn’t processing (those) deposits.

“Dense deposit disease is a condition that affects kidney function and with this disease, the immune system damages the kidneys — in this case, really badly. About half or more (of the) people with dense deposit disease develop end-stage renal disease within 10 years after symptoms start. Dense deposit disease is dangerous, especially in children. It’s a second type of C3G kidney disease, which stands for complament 3 glomerulopathy. The C3 refers to a blood protein that has a key role in a normal immunity and in the development of this disease. Glameruli filters the blood to get rid of the toxins and make urine.”

Bickers said the treatment for the dense deposit and C3G diseases only slows down the progression of kidney failure — not treat or stop it from worsening. 

“Though over time some patients, such as Austin’s current case, patients will only get worse until they do in fact reach full-blown and complete kidney failure. When this occurs, (he) will need a kidney transplant and dialysis to stay alive. With Austin’s diagnosis, he requires a potassium, sodium and fluid restricted diet and his renal functioning labs need to be monitored each day, while the NCH nephrology medical team awaits for genetic, serum, and abdominal testing results that were sent out to the University of Iowa from the first biopsy that was done,” she said.

Austin, a sophomore at Willard High School, has been in Nationwide Children’s Hospital since June 12.

Bickers said her son has requested cards or LEGO sets. They can be mailed to Laurie Bickers, 104 Washington St., Willard Ohio 44890.

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