Family suffering from rare disease seeks organ donors

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Sarah Lathrop hears all the time how she looks healthy, but the 37-year-old has a unique weight loss goal.

“I'm hoping to lose 25 pounds,” she said with a laugh.

Losing weight would save Lathrop's life, but not for the reason one might think.

Understanding the reason begins with her father, Steve.

During a basketball game, Steve Lathrop was elbowed in the side. During testing, doctors discovered his kidney was covered in cysts. He was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease, or PKD, a rare disease that shuts down kidney function.

After battling the disease for years, doctors in 1999 told Steve that he needed to find a live kidney donor. Naturally, he turned to his family.

“It was discovered that my siblings and I all had Polycystic Kidney Disease as well,” Sarah Lathrop said. “We were not able to give him a kidney, but it turned out my mom was a match, so she donated a kidney to my dad.”

Sarah and brothers Jeff and John all struggle with PKD. In July, Jeff's college roommate stepped up and donated a kidney to the 41-year-old. He is regaining his strength and health.

According to Sarah, Jeff lost 25 pounds; the reason for her weight loss goal.

Because of PKD, Sarah said her kidneys have ballooned to the size of footballs. She explained her enlarged kidney are heavy and push on her diaphragm, making it difficult for her to breath.

“I'm at 19 percent kidney function right now with two kidneys,” she said.

John, Sarah, and her dad once again are all in dire need of a live kidney donor. They hope this weekend will change that.

Dare to Donate – Times Three is the theme of their blood drive. The Lathrop family will hold a two-day event where people are welcome to donate blood, find out their blood type, and learn more about becoming a live organ donor.

Sarah said her family is searching for a willing donor with type-O blood, but as a physician's assistant she knows live organ donors are “nearly impossible.”

She said most people are not well educated on live organ donation and that comes with a sense of fear. Dare to Donate aims to calm fears by providing answers to any question.

Sarah said most people are unaware humans typically have two kidneys and most people can function with just one.

People who become live donors are put on a special top priority list if the time comes where that person is in need of a kidney donor.

“It's like karma,” Sarah said. “What goes around comes around.”

The Lathrop's hope karma will find them at the West Shore Evangelical Free Church gymnasium, either on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., or on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

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