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Wadena boy and family hoping to find kidney transplant donor

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WADENA, Minn. - Patrick Sibert needs a kidney. And he needs it soon.

The 14-year-old Wadena boy is on borrowed time with his one kidney -- and he wasn't even born with that one. It was transplanted from his mother, Laura Uselman, when Patrick was 16 months old.

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"He was born with one kidney at 20 percent function," said Laura, who along with her husband, Rick, are shaking every tree trying to find a donor for Patrick.

Patrick has built up antibodies that are harmful to the kidney, which is down to about 33 percent function. The antibodies are what make finding a new donor difficult.

"[Doctors] gave us a 6 percent chance of finding a donor for him," Laura explained.

She said about 20 family members have stepped forward to have their blood tested to see if they can find a compatible match. But since all share the same family line, the antibodies are likely to reject those kidneys, too. To date, no suitable donor has been found.

They're searching for someone with either A or O blood types -- positive or negative don't matter -- and are in good health. A potential donor would contact Cathy Garvey at the U of M hospital at (800) 328-5465 and mention Patrick Sibert, date of birth Feb. 24, 1994. Blood could then be drawn at a local clinic at the university's expense, and sent in for testing.

Without a transplant soon, Patrick will be forced onto dialysis. He's had a rough few months, Laura said. In August, doctors said Patrick was going into renal failure. After that crisis, he spent seven weeks through the holidays getting treated as he saw a steady decline. But he was stabilized, and is now back in classes.

"He's just so happy to be back at school," Laura said. "Right now we're in a 'maintain' phase and we're trying to find that kidney."

Two Web sites are tracking Patrick's progress: www.kidneyforpatrick.com and www.caringbridge.org/visit/patricks.

A benefit will be held April 4 at the Wadena Elks Lodge, and money will be used to both broaden the search for a potential donor, and also help defray the donor's expenses, such as lodging, meals and missed work during recovery.

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