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13-year-old recovering nicely after kidney transplant

Oct 28, 2013

By Joanne Shuttleworth

GUELPH — Tyrel Thomson is one grateful, slightly tired, bored boy and that’s a good sign, his parents say. A step up from the terribly sick boy who learned last December he was in end-stage renal failure and needed a kidney transplant.

Tyrel, 13, got his transplant on Aug. 20 and, while it’s been an emotional rollercoaster ride for his parents, so far he seems to be doing fine.

“Medically, he’s where he should be at this point,” said Phil Thomson, Tyrel’s father, in a sit-down interview in the family’s Guelph home Sunday. “He’s more stable now and every day seems to be improving.”

“It makes me nervous to talk of his recovery this way,” said Tyrel’s mother Sandi Thomson. “He’s had every setback you can imagine. I don’t want any more.”

Tyrel was always an active boy and he did something to his finger in one of his sports that caused it to swell. Routine blood tests for his finger revealed Tyrel was in end-stage renal failure.

It was quite unrelated to his finger, which got better on its own in a few days. But the family has been thrust into a world of medical appointments, dialysis treatments and sitting by the phone waiting for word that a suitable kidney had been found.

When that call finally came, Phil and Sandi took Tyrel to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children where he had the transplant surgery.

“The kidney was a perfect match and he did well for the first few days,” Sandi said. “Then we had a scare. He developed PRES syndrome (posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome, which causes swelling of the brain) and they put him in a medically induced coma. There have been a lot of unknowns.”

Phil and Sandi spent several weeks in Toronto while Tyrel recovered from his surgery. Then he was transferred to Hamilton where he recovered some more.

He’s home now, but still has to travel to Hamilton once or twice a week for checkups. As of Friday, he’s stable and things are looking good.

He still can’t mix with the general public yet because risk of infection is still a pressing issue. So he can’t go to school, he can’t play sports, can’t visit with friends, can’t borrow library books or go to a movie theatre or the mall.

He begins studying with a tutor next week in the hope of bringing him up to speed with his peers at school. If all goes well, he could be back in class in January.

He’s also been approved for a wish from the Make a Wish Foundation, so as soon as he’s able, the family is going to Disney World.

Tyrel also got to throw the first pitch for the Guelph Gryphons men’s baseball team at a championship game a few weeks ago.

“That was huge,” Sandi said. “They gave a nice speech about organ donation. Tyrel got a uniform. It was really neat for someone who loves baseball so much and who has missed it all this time.”

Last summer, some friends held a fundraiser to help the family with some of the expenses that have come up — mostly parking, gas and medications.

“That was a godsend,” Sandi said. “It doesn’t take long for expenses to add up. We are so grateful. We have so many people to thank.”

Tyrel is itching for medical clearance from his doctors so he can get on with his life.

“There’s lots I want to do,” he said. “Go skateboarding, go out with friends, and I miss camping and canoeing with Scouts.”

Although he didn’t do the walk, Tyrel attended the Guelph Kidney Walk in September, a fundraiser for the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

Sandi said it was a small but inspiring event and as soon as Tyrel is back in optimum health, she plans on volunteering with them.

“That will be my new thing when all this is over,” Sandi said. “We’ve had some good luck. Soon it will be time to give back.”

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