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Patrick Sibert endures one of his plasmapheresis treatments at the University of Minnesota.

Still searching for kidney, Wadena teen also fighting H1N1

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It was hard enough when 15-year-old Patrick Sibert of Wadena went into renal failure about a year ago. But watching more than 150 potential kidney donors get disqualified one-by-one and coming down with H1N1 flu couldn't help.

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But his mother, Laura Uselman, said Patrick is as upbeat as ever, and he's certain a donor match can be found before he's put on dialysis.

"He knows he's going to get one," Uselman said of her son's confidence. "He's the one who keeps me strong."

More than anything, Uselman said, her son just wants to be a normal kid.

"He says, 'I just want to play basketball for a full day and not have to pay for it,'" she said.

While good friends and a sunny attitude help keep Patrick a happy young man, he has to endure a lot with his condition.

"He has to watch what he eats," Uselman said. "He has to watch what he drinks. He's on 14 medications."

His anti-rejection drugs make him more susceptible to disease, and Patrick was diagnosed with H1N1 about two weeks ago. Uselman said Tri-County Hospital in Wadena has been great about keeping him in a germ-free environment when he goes in, and she's had to take precautions at home, too.

"We're kind of having him in a bubble right now," Uselman said.

Patrick's mother gave him one of her kidneys when he was a child, but his body has now built up antibodies to that organ and is rejecting it. The antibodies have made finding a donor match very difficult.

"He has 94 percent antibodies built up," Uselman said. "That means there's a 6 percent possibility of a match."

A media blitz a few months ago produced many people who stepped forward to help Patrick, but out of the 150, none were a suitable donor.

"There were a few possibilities, but none were able to pass the work-ups," Uselman said.

Not only does the young man need to find a donor with type A or O blood, they need to have a kidney Patrick's body won't reject, they need to be very healthy themselves, and one more thing.

"They need to be persistent," Uselman explained.

There is only one transplant nurse, Cathy Garvey, who is assigned to screening potential donors for Patrick.

"When a news article comes out, she gets all these calls and can't return them all," Uselman said, underscoring her point about being persistent. "You may have to call three times."

Those who want to try to see if they can be a donor can get a local screening done at no cost. To do so, call Garvey at (800) 328-5465, and Patrick Sibert, date of birth Feb. 24, 1994.

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