Battle Ground’s Justin Carey has been dealt a much harder hand than most.
At 16 years old, he was struck by a car while waiting at a school bus stop. He nearly died and later lost his lower right leg as a result of his injuries. He and his family sat through two criminal trials for the driver who hit him.
Now, at 22 years old, Carey is fighting for his life again after learning he has advanced-stage renal disease.
Carey went to an emergency room June 26 for an unrelated issue that required a dye test. The dye can be hard on a person’s kidneys, so doctors first wanted to test his kidneys.
“They asked ‘How long has he had advanced stage kidney disease?’ ” his mom, Janette Chumley recalled. “I looked at (the doctor) and didn’t understand what he was saying. … I said, ‘He doesn’t,’ and the doctor said, ‘He does.’ I was like ‘Oh my God.’ It was just a whole shock. We had no idea.”
Chumley said her son displayed some symptoms of kidney disease, but they chalked it up to him being an amputee and not feeling well.
They learned Carey’s kidneys are functioning at about 18 percent of normal — when they drop to 15 percent, he’ll need dialysis. Doctors say he is eligible for a kidney transplant now, so they are trying to get him ready, which entails vigorous testing to find an absolute match.
The family assumed Carey’s kidney failure was due to the injuries he suffered in the crash, but his doctors said it’s genetic. His younger brother also has kidney disease. Carey’s diagnosis is Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, or FSGS, a rare disease that attacks the kidney’s filtering units and causes scarring.
Carey should be done with testing by October. He’ll only start dialysis if he loses too much kidney function or becomes symptomatic, his mom said.
“He actually has a pretty good attitude about it,” Chumley said of her son. “He completely changed his diet on his own. He’s really into making the kidneys he has last as long as they can.
“He inspires me to be more positive about it. He believes that God will give us a match, you know? He’s totally believing this is just temporary,” she added.
Carey is attending Clark College. He wants to be a vascular sonographer, a medical imaging specialist who examines blood vessels.
“The vascular just fascinated him, from all of the stuff he was going through with his amputation,” Chumley said.
Anyone wishing to keep up on Carey’s condition, can follow the Facebook page Praying for Justin.
“He definitely appreciates all of the love and prayers; we all do,” Chumley said. “People have reached out to ask how they can get tested to see if they’re a match.”