Brave toddler Dane’s donor struggle
At just 2 years old, Dane Conrads has endured more health struggles than some people will face in a lifetime.
One week after he was born, the youngster — son of former Saltus Grammar School student A.J. Conrads — caught a virus which shut down his liver and kidneys.
That began a six-month hospital stay in which he also broke several bones due to malnourishment.
Dane received a liver transplant at just six weeks old, but he remains in urgent need of a kidney and continues to go through 11 hours of dialysis every night at his San Francisco home.
“He's a really happy guy. I think he doesn't really know that he feels bad, because he's felt that way his whole life,” said Mrs Conrads, who works as a product manager at YouTube.
Dane's situation is complicated by the fact that he must receive a kidney from a recently deceased child donor. When he reached 10kg, an MRI scan revealed that the youngster's veins were clotted, meaning that they cannot support an adult donor — scuppering A.J. and her husband Ted's initial plan to give one of their kidneys.
For the past year, Dane has sat on a United States government waiting list to receive a child-sized kidney.
“The doctors were saying that it could take a long time for Dane to get a kidney which matches his specific criteria,” said Mrs Conrads, whose parents Les and Margaret moved to Bermuda from Connecticut in 1992 and still live in Warwick.
“Dane is already developmentally delayed — he only just started crawling a month or two ago and he isn't talking yet.
“If he doesn't get a transplant in the next six to 12 months, Dane might be disabled for the rest of his life — and every day that he's on dialysis could impact his long-term quality of life.”
In the meantime Dane, older brother to 14-month-old Carter, is receiving weekly physical therapy to build his strength up.
The Conrads have also found a fresh avenue in the fight to find their son a new kidney — by utilising the power of social media.
Mrs Conrads was inspired to launch the “Kidney for Dane” Facebook page (www.facebook.com/daneconrads) by a family in Los Angeles who lost their infant son in a car accident.
When the family announced that they would like to donate their son's organs, they were flooded with requests — so much so that Dane missed out on receiving a kidney.
“We can't just sit around and wait anymore. We thought this might be our chance to save Dane by telling his story to as many people as possible,” Mrs Conrads said.
Dane's Facebook page has already gained huge traction — clocking up more than 100,000 views in the week since its creation.
“We're raising awareness of organ donation, and maybe we'll also find a needle in a haystack and a match for Dane,” Mrs Conrads said.