Park River teen recovers from kidney transplant
Eighteen-year-old Brennan Foerster is well on his way to recovery after a kidney transplant. The Park River (N.D.) High School senior received the kidney Thursday from an uncle, Ken Ohlheiser, a Grand Forks native who lives in Colorado. The opera...
Eighteen-year-old Brennan Foerster is well on his way to recovery after a kidney transplant.
The Park River (N.D.) High School senior received the kidney Thursday from an uncle, Ken Ohlheiser, a Grand Forks native who lives in Colorado. The operation took place at Fairview Medical Center in Minneapolis.
"The kidney is working wonderfully," his mother, Shawna Foerster, said Friday. "As soon as they put it in, it was working so well that they took out the catheter."
Ohlheiser entered surgery at 7:30 a.m., followed by Brennan at 9:30 a.m. The operation, which occurred the day after his 18th birthday, was completed early in the afternoon.
"He's exceeding all expectations as to how well the kidney is functioning," his mother said. "We're very blessed, but it's very hard on him."
Brennan was born with one kidney. His family, who lives on a farm near Pisek, N.D., was told that he likely would live a normal life.
When he was 15, however, he was severely injured in a car accident. While being treated at First Care Health Center in Park River, doctors discovered that he was in kidney failure, with a functioning level of only about 30 percent.
By September 2006, with the kidney functioning at just 7 percent, he started a daily routine of dialysis. Last month, his kidney was functioning at just 4 percent to 5 percent of normal, aided by a 10-percent boost from dialysis.
Until the operation, Brennan balanced school, extracurricular activities and daily dialysis - 10 hours a night hooked up to a machine at home.
Brennan now is receiving anti-rejection drugs, according to his mother, a registered nurse who works at the Good Samaritan Center in Larimore, N.D. Doctors are closely monitoring his condition, because there still is a chance of rejection.
"This is a very hard time for him. It's very painful, and he has a big incision," his mother said. "He has every kind of tube coming out of everywhere. They keep on telling us he's doing wonderful, but it's hard to see your son like that."
Ken Ohlheiser is recovering well, too, Shawna Foerster said.
Ohlheiser is married to Shawna's sister, Merry Lynn Ohlheiser. He volunteered to be tested for compatibility after Brennan's other family members were rejected.
"The first thing he asked was, 'How's Brennan'? When we told him it went great, he broke down," Shawna said. "I'm sure there was a worry that his kidney might not work. He realized he just saved my son's life."
Shawna Foerster hopes Brennan will be able to leave the hospital Tuesday. Then, the family will stay in Minneapolis for up to two weeks, returning to the hospital for monitoring and treatment.
"We hope to get home the following weekend, but we really don't know," she said.
Brennan is planning to return to Park River High School within a month. He is scheduled to graduate this spring. His teachers are e-mailing assignments and tests until he can return to school.
Doctors have told the family they slowly will wean Brennan from medicines, with a goal of reaching a maintenance dose within three years. He'll take medication the rest of his life.
"We're just so grateful," Shawna Foerster said. "He can live a normal life with this."
Bonham reports on the region. Reach him at (701) 780-1269, (800) 477-6572 ext. 269 or email@example.com .