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Toddler needs life-saving kidney

Jase Tompkins, 2, needs a kidney donor as soon as possible to beat end stage renal disease. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

When you look at Jase Tompkins, the toddler son of Kelly and Brian Tompkins, of Solon Township, he looks like most other two-year-olds: a cute, happy, energetic, and curious boy that’s full of life. And while Jase is all those things, he is also a toddler living with a death sentence: end stage renal disease.

And the only thing that will save him is a new kidney.

The Tompkins are seeking an adult donor with either type O or type B blood that will come forward to donate one kidney to replace Jase’s two non-working child-sized kidneys. It doesn’t matter if they are positive or negative.

“We are super excited to find a living donor for Jase so that when he is ready for his transplant, we have a kidney waiting for him. Our goal is to find a kidney before the end of 2017 with transplant sometime in 2018,” said Jase’s mom, Kelly.

“We are working on getting him on the deceased donor list (commonly known as UNOS), and we would certainly take a donation from a deceased donor. However, living kidneys tend to last longer and are screened more thoroughly since there is time to do so. If Jase received a good living donor kidney, it would likely last him up to 20 years,” she explained.

The Tompkins family at the Detroit Zoo. Courtesy photo.

Jase was born in China in March 2015 and adopted by Kelly and Brian in January 2017. “Although we don’t know exactly what happened to him when he was born, we suspect he was born with a condition called post-urethral valve (PUV),” said Kelly. “The way it was explained to me is a valve in both his kidneys was closed. As such, urine backed up into kidneys and could not be released, so his kidneys failed. This would have probably been easily detected and fixed here in the U.S., because hospital staff would have noticed he was not having wet diapers. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, in China this was missed. The damage to his kidneys is irreversible.”

Kelly said they are doing at-home peritoneal dialysis every night for 11 hours. “This dialysis does the job of the kidneys, filtering out impurities in the body. If we did not do this, he would die. We will continue dialysis until he has a kidney transplant,” she said.

Parenting a special needs child is not new to the Tompkins. Together they have six children, with five at home, and two of the five are special needs children they adopted. Those at home include their three biological children, JR, almost 9; and twins Ainsley and Autumn, 6. Their adopted sons are Peter, 4, and Jase, 2. Brian has an older son, Nick, 19, who attends college at GVSU.

What led Kelly and Brian to adopt a special needs child? “People often ask me why I chose adoption, and I don’t have a great answer for them,” said Kelly. “It wasn’t like one day God just spoke directly to me telling me to adopt two little boys from China with special needs. It was much more of a nudging. Our biological twin daughter, Autumn, was born with cleft palate. As a parent, I guess I never really felt like my children would be born with any special needs. I am pretty healthy and took care of myself during my pregnancies and yet I still had a child with a severe birth defect. I wasn’t angry about it but I certainly didn’t understand it either. Now I understand this time was preparing me for adopting two more children with special needs. God seriously blows my mind when I think about how He works in our lives every single day. Throughout Autumn’s surgeries, therapies, and hospital stays I started reading about the orphan crisis in China for boys with special needs. I talked about it with my husband Brian. Same as me, he spoke of how sad it was, but we didn’t seriously think we could help in any tangible way. But, God nudged me to talk further with Brian about it. At first, he said no to adoption. And, of course, if you’re going to entertain adoption and its costs and its commitment, we needed to be all in—together. So, I waited and prayed. And, one night on his way home from work he called me and said to move forward. So, I did! In less than a year, we were the proud parents of Peter, a 20-month old with severe bilateral cleft lip and palate and severe hearing loss.”

For the Tompkins, the adoption of Peter and Jase is a natural way to show their faith. “Although I had probably read John 14:18 many times in my Bible reading, it never meant much until the last few years. I will not leave you as orphans it says. This is now one of my favorite Bible verses and carries so much more significance than before we adopted. And, isn’t that really what we all are…orphans in this world…waiting for God to adopt us into His family!”

For those interested in the possibility of donating a kidney to Jase, you should contact the living donor transplant coordinator at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Lori Copeland. She can be contacted by phone at 616-391-2802 (option 1, then option 4) or via e-mail at lori.copeland@spectrumhealth.org. Possible donors will be asked screening questions to see if they fit the criteria. “People with high blood pressure and diabetes would not be able to donate since these diseases can affect the kidneys,” explained Copeland.

The Spectrum Health transplant fund and the Tompkins’ health insurance will pay for the testing. Spectrum Health will only cover necessary evaluation testing for the living donor to determine candidacy.

The living donor surgery is covered by both Spectrum Health and Tompkins’ insurance.

Copeland said they do require donors to have medical coverage for medical issues found through testing that may require treatment and for any post-surgical complications.

Copeland said that there are currently 96,986 people (adult and children combined) on the national waiting list for a kidney.

To follow Jase’s transplant journey, check out the Tompkins Facebook page called Calling All Kidney’s for Jase.

For more info on donating a kidney, visit https://transplantliving.org/living-donation/being-a-living-donor/ or https://www.kidney.org/transplantation/livingdonors#livingdonation.

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