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Wesley’s strength is evident at Transplant Games '04


Farragut youngster and U.S. Transplant Games athlete Wesley Rogers has never known the joy of excellent physical health.

Not even from day one.

“We actually discovered in an ultra-sound before he was born that he had kidney problems, and that his kidneys were not developing properly,” said Randy Rogers, Wesley’s father, about the 12-year-old’s lifelong battle.


Though needing a new kidney at birth, Wesley had to wait more than a year after being born before he could receive one of his father’s kidneys.

“It was a combination of things,” Randy said. “He was born six weeks early because he had a urinary system problem and he ran out of ambionic fluid. And so when he was born, his kidney function was actually much more decreased than what was anticipated. So, he started on dialysis when he was about five months old. We did that at home twelve hours a day until he was fourteen months old.

“And really it was a size issue, they wanted him to be about twenty pounds to transplant him because he was going to get an adult kidney, mine, so they’d have enough room to put it in there,” Randy added. “But he wasn’t growing, and so when they ended up transplanting him he weighed only twelve pounds.”

Though only 14-months-old, Wesley’s transplant was successful. Before the transplant, “he didn’t have the strength to sit up on his own, roll over on his own,” Randy said. “And then he got his transplant in May, and by August he was walking.”

SUCCESS AT GAMES

Though small for his age and still battling various health issues, Wesley’s been running, swimming and throwing in the U.S. Transplant Games since 2000. And he has the medals to prove it.

The semi-annual U.S. Transplant Games have become the Rogers family’s semi-annual vacation destination.

Cheered on by Randy, mom Sharry, and little sister Rachel, 6, during the recent 2004 games in Minneapolis, Minn. (July 27 to Aug. 1), Wesley earned a bronze medal in the long jump while finishing sixth in both the softball throw and 25-meter freestyle swimming event.

“It’s really fun to go ‘cause in Minnesota and DisneyWorld (Orlando, Fla., site of 2000 and 2002 games) we trade pins there, and you meet a lot of people from different states all over the United States,” said Wesley, a seventh-grader at St. John Neumann school, just before leaving for Minneapolis.

At the 2002 games in Orlando, Fla., Wesley came away with a silver medal in swimming and a bronze in the long jump.

As for the biggest reward, “It certainly gives him a goal to be active, to work towards,” his father said about the games. “The main thing is that it allows him to compete in a setting which is more on an equal footing with his health issues and physical size and things like that. With kidney patients, as well as all transplant patients, it affects your growth and physical strength and endurance.

“For us as parents, seeing him compete and do well is obviously exciting and thrilling for us,” Randy added. “But also just the overall event, and the public awareness and public education that it provides for organ donation is probably one of the bigger benefits for my wife and I as parents.”

HEALTH RUNDOWN

“It was amazing, as far as kidney function and rejection, we’ve been very blessed,” Randy said about his son’s kidney health since the transplant. “He’s had one chronic rejection episode in the eleven years (since), and that was about five years post-transplant. Trans-plantation is one of those things that rejection happens early, probably the first twelve months. And the longer it works, the better chance that it’s going to continue to work.”

However, Randy further explained that Wesley is currently going through chronic rejection, “which is a slow degradation of the function of his transplanted kidney.”

Though he made it clear that Wesley “is not in any imminent danger of his kidney (failing) or anything right now,” Randy adds it’s likely that sometime during Wesley’s adult years he will need another transplant.

“His biggest other issue is that his entire urinary system did not develop properly and didn’t function properly, so that all had to be reconstructed through a series of about eight different surgeries both before and after his transplant.”

The last of those came “at age five or six.”

Randy said that Wesley has been in generally good health in recent years. “He’s got some other health issues that are not directly related to the kidney,” the father said. “He has some gastro, some stomach issues.

“At this point, kidney function-wise, he gets lab work done one a month and sees a doctor about four times a year.”

This helps allow Wesley to compete at the top of his ability — both athletically and in daily life.

 

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