CHESAPEAKE, Va. – A Chesapeake teen in desperate need of a kidney transplant to save his life got the surgery he’d been praying for this year.
“I feel phenomenal,” said 19-year-old Myles Grate, a student at the Art Institute of Virginia Beach.
After spending nearly five years on dialysis waiting for a new kidney, Grate received the life-saving transplant this fall from a deceased organ donor.
“Thank you for saving my life,” said Grate. “I’ll be sure to make it count.”
The Grate family said they hope to learn the identity of the donor and their family so they can thank them.
“We have a special link to [the family of the organ donor],” said Jerome Grate, Myles’ father. “We want to reach out to them, and we can’t express enough the gratitude to them for saving our son’s life.”
This was Myles’ second kidney transplant. When Myles was just a toddler, doctors diagnosed him with atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS). It is a rare and deadly kidney disease.
“It was so scary when he got sick,” said his mother Denise Grate. “It was as if someone had hit me in the head with a brick.”
Denise Grate was a perfect match, and she donated her kidney to her son.
“Thank God I was a match,” she said. “As soon as they did the transplant, it started working.”
However, kidney transplants do not last forever. Statistics suggest living donor transplants usually last between 12 and 20 years, and Myles’ transplanted kidney started failing in 2015.
“We knew even back then that it was maintenance,” said Myles’ mother. “It was not a cure.”
His father wanted to donate one of his kidneys, but his diabetes diagnosis took him out of the running.
“It would have been my honor, my pleasure, my joy to give him a kidney, but unfortunately I can’t,” said Jerome Grate.
Myles was one of an estimated 100,000 people in the country awaiting a kidney transplant, according to the National Kidney Foundation. The organization also says on average 13 people die each day waiting for a transplant.
“What’s better than not helping anybody is helping one person,” Myles said.
After News 3 first aired Myles’ story in 2018, people all over the country signed up to be living organ donors, but none proved to be a match for Myles.
“I just had to take a deep breath,” said Myles.
In September, Myles and his family finally learned a deceased donor was a match. Now, the superhero fan and artist says he will honor the organ donor who saved his life in his own comics.
“I’ll make sure they’ll be a very important part of the story,” Myles Grate said.
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