Diagnosis: Stage 3 Chronic Kidney Disease, Congenital Anomaly of Urinary System
Superhero name: Marvelous Mary
Superpower: Overcoming adversity. Mary handles any challenge in life with strength and a smile.
Sidekicks: Mary’s support network is broad - family, friends, sports team and church members, dozens of nurses and specialists, especially Dr. Shefali Mahesh and Dr. Daniel McMahon.
Why Mary is an #ACHero: From the outside, you’d never know the bubbly, energetic Mary has ever suffered with a cold let alone near kidney failure. Since birth, Mary has managed her kidney condition with the help of surgeries, catheters, lab tests, diet restrictions and a happy disposition.
When she’s not busy overcoming obstacles: Mary is an athlete. She loves singing, playing softball and basketball, swimming and dancing. She also loves being outside riding 4-wheelers, hunting, fishing and playing on her family’s farm with her brother, cousins and friends.
Did you know fact: Mary has incredible accuracy. Both times she’s been hunting with her family, she’s taken down a turkey and a deer on her first attempt.
Pure joy. A simple description for an extraordinary young girl whose kidney condition has been anything but simple.
As a newborn, Mary seemed to be a picture of good health, but not even 10 days later, Mary went to Akron Children’s for evaluation.
“We had a lot of visitors to see her one day and she slept pretty much the whole time,” said Kelly, Mary’s mom. “We didn’t think much of it until she started breathing different. We took her temperature and realized she had a fever.”
Doctors tested her blood, spinal fluid and urine. They found bacteria in her urine but were unable to get a urinary catheter in her bladder. Mary was heading toward renal failure, so she was transported to Akron Children’s Akron campus where a specialist discovered her urinary tract hadn’t formed properly.
After IV antibiotics, Mary was sent home but continued to get kidney infections every couple weeks. To prevent further scarring of her kidneys, Mary had a lengthy surgery to realign her urinary tract at just 2 months old.
With surgery and the help of medications, Mary wasn’t getting sick as often, so her parents thought the worst was behind them. But, at 2 and a half years old, Mary’s mom received a call from the daycare saying Mary had a high fever.
“I rushed to get her and immediately noticed she looked gray…The pediatrician’s office told me to get her to the ER right away,” said Kelly. “Mary kept trying to fall asleep in the car, so I kept talking to her to keep her awake. When we got to the ER, she registered a 106 temperature and was taken by ambulance to Akron for specialty care.”
After 4 days in the hospital to treat a kidney infection, Mary was diagnosed with grade 5 kidney reflux, a condition where urine flows backwards from the bladder into the kidneys. As a result, when Mary would get a bladder infection, it quickly traveled to her kidneys and blood stream causing her to be dangerously ill.
Dr. Daniel McMahon recommended Mary have bilateral ureteral reimplantation surgery, which would create a mechanical valve in the bladder to prevent the reverse flow of urine to the kidneys.
Mary’s surgery was success, but her kidneys didn’t respond well to the anesthesia.
“We were prepared to be at the hospital for a couple days, but her creatinine levels kept getting higher…near renal failure,” said Mary. “All we could do was wait to see if her kidneys would start to function again. After 9 terrifying days and lots of prayers, her levels came down…we were so relieved.”
Stable and back at home, Mary was like a different kid.
“The surgery was a real turning point for her and her health. She wasn’t getting sick; she was eating better; her hair came in thicker; and, she began growing leaps and bounds,” said Mary’s dad, Ken. “She functions at a higher level than most who have no health issue at all…she’s an excellent student and athlete.”
To keep Mary’s kidney function stable, she takes medication and follows a renal diet. She also has an annual checkup with urology, lab testing every 3 months and regular visits with Dr. Shefali Mahesh, her pediatric kidney specialist.
“Mary is so tough, and she does it all with a smile,” said Kelly. “She’s had countless needle pricks, catheters, spinal taps, ultra sounds, you name it, and she never complains. She just keeps going.”
In life or on the field, Mary is happiest playing sports and being outside. Although competitors may try to tag her out and her kidney condition has tried to slow her down, neither can catch her boundless energy and upbeat spirit.
I’m fundraising as part of the FirstEnergy Akron Marathon, Half Marathon and Team Relay. Funds raised through my online fundraising page will assist patients and their families at Akron Children’s Hospital.
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