Playing tee-ball. Kicking a bowling ball down the alley. Filling a room with an infectious smile and laughter. It’s what you’d expect out of any child, and Keston is certainly no exception.
“I can't imagine what our lives would be like without Keston.” – Melissa, Keston’s mom
But the family almost had to face that terrible reality.
When Melissa was about 20 weeks pregnant, doctors noticed a blockage in Keston’s urethra.
“I've been practicing pediatric urology at Phoenix Children's Hospital for over 20 years, and Keston had one of the most severe presentations of a blockage in the urethra.” – Robert Bailey, MD, Chief of Pediatric Urology
After a complicated delivery, Keston was born on June 23, 2005. Within his first week in Phoenix Children’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit, pediatric nephrologist Mark Joseph, MD, confirmed that the obstruction in Keston’s urethra had caused a great deal of damage to his kidneys. As a result, he would need a kidney transplant.
“We support our newborns until they get big enough to handle a donated kidney.” – David Notrica, MD, Pediatric Surgeon, Medical Director of Trauma.
Waiting for a kidney
Newborn babies are too small to accept a new kidney. So Keston had to wait while his family kept him alive with dialysis, a machine that acts as an artificial kidney by helping the body remove extra fluids.
Thankfully, Phoenix Children’s has Arizona’s only Pediatric Dialysis Center, and its Peritoneal Dialysis Nurse, JoAnne Watson made in-home visits to teach Keston’s family how to use a dialysis machine. Keston endured 12 hours of treatment every night for 15 months.
"I was a single mother. What if I forgot something? What if I missed a step? I know a mistake that I make could potentially kill him." – Melissa
During this incredibly stressful time, Melissa worried about what could go wrong, and Melissa’s daughter, Keragan, worried about her mother.
"It was really hard on me to take care of Keston that much, and having that much responsibility, but it was also very easy because I was helping my mom out." – Keragan, Keston’s sister
The call that changed their lives
Finally, the family’s dream came true. Bruce Morgenstern, MD, the chief pediatric nephrologist and kidney transplant leader at Phoenix Children’s, called to let the family know the Hospital had a kidney for Keston.
"It was the moment you’ve waited for, for so long, and we were so excited, but scared, too, because now this is major surgery. First they have to remove the damaged kidney, and then they have to transplant the new one." – Melissa
Fortunately, the doctors in the kidney transplant program at Phoenix Children’s have a remarkable success rate. Ninety two percent of Phoenix Children’s transplant patients have kept their new kidneys past the 3-year mark, beating the national average of 87 percent.
Keston is now one of those success stories. Though he will always face a risk of rejection and a higher risk of infections, he looks and acts just like any other boy his age.
"To look at Keston now, you would never know that he had a kidney failure, he was ever on dialysis, and that he ever got a kidney transplant, because he looks like any other two-year-old running around." – Mark Joseph, MD
Through Keston’s own medical journey, another kind of healing occurred: his family came together.