In 2013, Roxanne Douglas was baffled when her 3-year-old son, Bradelyn, developed a stomach virus that would not go away. His pediatrician in the family’s hometown of Laurinburg decided to do a blood test.
As soon as the lab results came back, the pediatrician called an ambulance and sent Bradelyn and his mom to Scotland Memorial Hospital before they were transferred to NC Children’s Hospital. Bradelyn was in kidney failure and immediately began dialysis as the doctors worked to determine why this was happening.
He was diagnosed with oxalosis, a rare metabolic disorder that has no cure. It occurs when the kidneys stop eliminating calcium oxalate crystals from the body through the urine. Because the kidneys stop functioning, oxalate crystals are deposited elsewhere in the body such as in the blood, then in the eyes, bones, muscles, blood vessels, heart and other organs. Too many of these crystals in the blood can lead to death if untreated.
Bradelyn needed a combined liver and kidney transplant. While waiting, he continued dialysis both at UNC and at home, the latter performed by his mother and his dad, Oliver.
“It was an unusual case because he had an inborn metabolic disease that was caused by his liver and led to his kidney disease,” says David Gerber, MD, chief of abdominal transplantation at UNC Medical Center. “To cure his kidney failure, he needed to have his liver replaced as well.”
After 19 days on the transplant list, Bradelyn received a transplant at NC Children’s Hospital on July 2, 2013.
It was a milestone for the transplant program at UNC.
“This is the youngest combined liver-kidney transplant we have done at UNC, and I believe the youngest in the state of North Carolina as well,” Dr. Gerber says.
The Douglas family was thrilled their son was given a second chance at life. But it was incredibly stressful waiting to see if Bradelyn’s body would accept the new liver and kidney. Transplant doctors kept him in a medically induced coma for almost a week to give the body time to accept it.
“Thankfully, the liver and kidney were a great match for Bradelyn,” his mother says. “And as tough as that time was, I would do it all over again. The medical professionals at UNC involved in his care have always made sure he was taken care of and continue to still be there for him.”
Today, Bradelyn is a happy, healthy 8-year-old who goes to school, likes to play outside and enjoys books, particularly Dr. Seuss, as well as the “Berenstain Bears,” “Pete the Cat” and “Biscuit” series. He also loves hanging out with his older sister, Alyssa.
“He loves to sing, and he hums when he is happy,” his mother says, “and every morning, he wakes up humming, which means he wakes up happy. What more could a mother want?”
Learn more about services offered at NC Children’s Hospital.