Grace Teboekhorst takes 32 pills a day.
Every Thursday night, the 11-year-old’s parents, Dennis and Melissa, have the whole kitchen island covered in pills, a concoction of drugs that might change depending on the results of Grace’s next blood test.
Six years ago, Grace received a kidney transplant from her father and now she has a kitchen cupboard dedicated to her anti-rejection medication.
Recently, though, her blood work showed higher than normal creatinine levels, which warn of possible malfunction or failure of the kidneys.
Her transplant doctor, Dr. Tom Blydt-Hansen, ordered a biopsy, which showed early signs of kidney rejection.
“My kidney numbers were going up. They were high for a long time and they weren’t going down, even though I was drinking and doing everything I needed to,” explained Grace.
She ended up spending a week in B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.
“Just a blip in the radar,” said her father Dennis.
“They started her on heavy dose steroids and they did immunoglobulin treatment to wipe out her white blood cells, to try to trick her body into not rejecting the kidney. So far, so good,” he added.
To keep her spirits up, her parents even smuggled in her beloved dachshund a couple of times for an overnight stay.
“It was kind of different because I hadn’t been there in so long,” Grace said of her hospital stay.
“It was good because I had good nurses and doctors to take care of me. But it was a bit of a challenge because I wasn’t at school and I wasn’t with my friends and different things like that, as well.”
She still managed to get some homework done and only fell at little bit behind.
Since she has been released, Grace has had to go back to the hospital every week for blood work and on June 6 she will have her final biopsy.
If the creatinine levels look good once again, Grace will return to the hospital every month for a checkup, just to keep a close eye.
She will need another kidney transplant, eventually. The doctors at B.C. Children’s Hospital hope that Grace’s kidney lasts until her early adulthood.
Her father was recently selected to be part of a transplant conference in Toronto, a brainstorming session involving researchers, nurses, doctors, surgeons, government officials and family members of people who have donated organs at death.
He is hopeful transplants could last longer in the future.
“We sat on one panel that showed that they could take her stem cells and mix it with the 3D medium and print it. And they are already doing that with heart valves, so it’s not that far away,” said Dennis.
If the biopsy on June 6 indicates Grace’s kidney is failing, doctors will monitor its function until it gets to between 20 and 25 per cent. Only then would she go on dialysis, then back on the transplant waiting list.
On Sunday, Grace will be co-hosting the 29th annual Miracle Weekend Telethon with Global anchor Lynn Colliar.
Money raised will go towards funding clinical care, research and development, staff and family education programs and the purchase of vital, life-saving equipment at the hospital, its research institute and Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children.
Since 1988, the Miracle Weekend fundraising campaign has raised more than $261 million.
Last year, the telethon raised $18.8 million.
The two-day event will be broadcast live on Global B.C. from 7 p.m. on Saturday to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.