When seven-year-old Ainsley Campbell of Summerland picks up a virus, it is a serious matter as her kidneys stop functioning properly.
“Right now she’s in a full-blown relapse,” said her mother, Melissa Campbell. “This one’s been pretty hard.”
As a result, Ainsley Campbell was not able to participate in an Orca Swim Club meet on the weekend.
Two years ago, she was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome, a rare form of kidney disease. The syndrome affects four to eight children out of 100,000.
Because the disease is so rare, the family is learning how to cope with it.
“Each time she relapses, the side effects are worse and more intense,” Melissa Campbell said.
However, the family is working to give Ainsley Campbell as normal a life as possible. She is in Grade 1 and is an active child as long as she is not coping with a virus.
When she has a virus, some of the medications have side effects including mood swings and depression. Treatment includes prednisone, which results in increased appetite and weight gain.
Melissa Campbell said some of the children diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome will grow out of the condition, while others will have it for life.
The way to determine whether the condition is temporary or permanent is through a biopsy, which is not recommended until Ainsley turns eight.
“There’s so little known about this disease,” Melissa Campbell said.
Kidney Coin donation boxes, with Ainsley Campbell’s picture, are at the IGA stores in Summerland, Penticton and Okanagan Falls. Boxes are also available at other Summerland businesses.
During Kidney Health Month, which runs through March, the Kidney Foundation is urging people to make sure to get their kidney function checked.
“Kidney disease has such minor symptoms that you can lose up to 80 per cent of kidney function before you’re diagnosed,” said Annick Lim of the foundation in Penticton.
Those who have diabetes or high blood pressure should get their kidney function checked often, as 90 per cent of new cases of kidney disease are related to those conditions.
For information or to conduct a kidney self-assessment, visit www.kidneyhelathcheck.ca.