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Tis the Season for Giving

Local teenager in need of kidney transplant
personifies the importance of organ donation

By Eugenia Jones

In many ways, Michael “Tyler” Lay is just a typical fourteen year old boy. He is an avid sports fan-loves basketball and baseball-and dreams of being chosen to play on his school’s basketball team. He enjoys watching televised sports with his favorite teams being the University of Kentucky Wildcats and the Cleveland Cavaliers. To Tyler, break is one of the best parts of going to school. He’s not keen on reading but likes math, and he thinks the ACT is a pretty tough test. He likes Corvettes and, someday, he wants to be a truck driver. He grins and keeps quiet when asked if he has a girlfriend.
However, life for the McCreary County Middle School eighth grader is anything but typical. At five feet tall and weighing ninety pounds, Tyler begins each day by swallowing a handful of medications. At night, he once again downs assorted medicines and tolerates two shots. With his immune system compromised, Tyler is susceptible to most of the common illnesses that pass through the schools.
Born with congenital nephrotic disease, Tyler lost both of his kidneys to the genetic disease at the age of eighteen months. Undergoing surgery, he received one transplanted kidney from his father. Now, approximately twelve years later, the transplanted kidney is functioning at roughly twenty percent. The hefty regime of medications are prescribed to help control Tyler’s blood pressure, help provide adequate nutrition, and maintain iron and potassium levels. He must also take anti-rejection medicine and growth hormone shots.
If his kidney function continues to drop, Tyler will need to go on dialysis. Doctors have told his guardian grandparents, Roy and Marie Hale, it is time to get aggressive in getting the word out about Tyler and beginning the search for a donor. They realize it may be harder to find a kidney this time because of the prior transplant and antibodies in Tyler’s blood. Another small drop in kidney function will put Tyler at the top of the transplant list.
Although finding a matching donor for Tyler and going through a successful transplant are the family’s main concerns, Tyler’s grandmother still worries about living so far from the Lexington doctors and hospital where the transplant will be performed. She knows when Tyler has the surgery, it will require ten to fourteen days in the hospital if everything goes well. After the initial hospitalization, the family will need to stay in Lexington for ten to twelve weeks for almost daily visits to the doctor. After that, Tyler will need to make weekly visits to his doctor for as long as it is deemed necessary. With two additional children in the family, the Hales realize finances may be tough.
Despite their concerns, the family tries to stay upbeat. Marie smiles when she says Tyler tells her not to worry and says he will give her half his food if needed when transplant time arrives. As for Tyler, his only question to the medical social worker has been to inquire if the transplant procedure will hurt.
In an attempt to get the word out about Tyler’s need for a kidney, friends of the family have arranged a parade entry in honor of Tyler in the McCreary County Christmas Parade this Friday, December 15 at 7:00 p.m. The entry will be designated as “Tis the Season for Giving” and will encourage others to give the gift of life by being organ donors.
Those wishing to help Tyler and his family, may contact Roy or Marie Hale of Whitley City, KY. The Hales can be contacted at 606-376-8278.
In addition, the Living Donor Transplant Team at University of Kentucky will provide information about Tyler’s transplant and send an application regarding medical history to anyone interested in possibly donating a kidney. There is no money out of the donor’s pocket. Tyler’s insurance is responsible for that cost. The telephone number to Living Donor is 859-323-2467.

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