A mother of three from Newport, who discovered that her nine-year-old daughter was suffering with chronic kidney failure, entered herself and her family into the Cardiff 2K Family Run, which takes place ahead of the famous Cardiff 10K road race each September, in order to raise funds for race organisers, Kidney Wales.
In December last year, Mercedes Charles, 26, rushed her daughter Jade to hospital where she was diagnosed with suspected lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. After weeks of testing, and many sleepless nights spent at the Royal Gwent Hospital, it was discovered that the nine-year-old was in fact suffering from glandular fever. Whilst typically glandular fever only presents a mild health concern, in Jade’s case there were additional concerns and further tests resulted in the discovery that Jade was suffering with chronic kidney failure in both her kidneys.
Mercedes, her husband Steven Charles, her youngest daughter, Lidia, and Jade’s identical twin, Lucy, all ran the Cardiff 2K in September to raise money for Kidney Wales and to show their support for the charity that does so much to help individuals and families across Wales who experience the many difficulties presented when living with kidney disease.
After learning that Jade had chronic kidney failure, Mercedes was informed that her daughter would have to travel from Newport to Cardiff, three times a week, to receive the necessary dialysis treatment to ensure her kidneys would not deteriorate any further.
Without a second thought, Mercedes, her husband and Mercedes’ father- Jade’s grandfather – were all tested to see if they were a suitable match to become Jade’s living donor. Dialysis, medication management and spending a lot of time away from her identical twin were all placing a massive strain on Jade’s childhood, and after nearly a month in hospital over the Christmas period, the illness was taking its toll on the whole family.
To ensure Jade was not missing out on vital schooling, Kidney Wales helped fund a tutor who provided Jade with essential learning support in the newly refurbished Children’s Kidney Centre at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.
However, the travel commitments and lengthy dialysis sessions were becoming more and more difficult for the nine-year-old and her strength was wearing thin.
After months of traveling back and forth to the Cardiff dialysis facility up to four times a week, Jade was provided with a home-based dialysis unit, meaning she could spend more time with her family.
Back at home, the good news that they had been waiting for arrived when it was confirmed that both Mercedes, and her father David were both matches and David started on his journey to become his granddaughter’s organ donor.
David is attending his first meeting at Bristol Royal Infirmary next week where he will learn if he is healthy enough to donate his kidney to Jade. If all goes according to plan, the family are hoping that the transplant will go ahead by the end of the year.
Mercedes said: “Seeing Jade go through so much at her age is truly heart-breaking, although you wouldn’t believe it in her attitude! She’s in such good spirits and I applaud her for her strength. Losing so much family time over the Christmas break was hard for us, but knowing that there is now a path forward is a huge relief.
“I think more needs to be done to raise awareness of kidney disease, especially as the illness is becoming more and more common in younger children. We’re all really looking forward to showing our support for Kidney Wales on race day and running our first ever race as a family!”
Roy Thomas, Chief Executive of Kidney Wales said: “It’s so inspiring to see families like Mercedes’ getting together to take part in events like our Cardiff 2K Family Run and supporting each other in times of need.
“Dealing with the difficulties brought on by kidney disease can be hugely testing for families, especially when it involves young children. It is my fervent hope that Jade gets the kidney she so badly needs. I wish the family the best of luck on race day and thank them for their fundraising efforts.”
People of all ages and abilities are encouraged to get involved with the iconic city centre road race.
To find out more about the 2017 Cardiff 2K and 10K events, to sign up or to help raise money and awareness for Kidney Wales, please visit the Cardiff 10K website: www.cardiff10K.cymru or call (029) 2034 3951.