Toms River, NJ baby — just 1 year old — needs a life-saving kidney transplant
March is National Kidney Month, and a Toms River mom is hoping her 1-year-old son will celebrate with the gift of life.
Ethan Mount is already a medical miracle.
When his mother, Sandy, was pregnant with Ethan, it was discovered that a rare birth defect had caused his still developing kidneys to shut down. In the majority of cases, the condition is fatal to the fetus.
Determined not to give up, Sandy and her husband Joey enrolled in a clinical trial through Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Special amnio-infusions allowed Ethan's lungs to develop, and at 34 weeks, Ethan was born.
Nearly four months of intensive medical treatments followed, and Ethan was finally allowed to come home.
It has not been easy.
Along with a regular medication regimen, Ethan must undergo up to 10 hours of dialysis every day to remove toxins from his little body. He is fed through a tube that runs through his nose.
Now doctors say he needs a kidney transplant.
Getting his body strong enough for the procedure starts with a risky multiprocedural surgery on Friday at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Among other things, doctors will fix a double hernia and repair his bladder. They will also implant a better feeding tube so Ethan can gain enough weight and strength to undergo a transplant procedure.
The family is working with The Children's Organ Transplant Association (COTA), which helps children and young adults who need a life-saving transplant by providing fundraising assistance and family support. If you would like to donate to support Ethan, click here.
Through all he has endured, Sandy says her son is the happiest little boy you will ever meet.
"People don't realize how sick he is because he is always smiling and laughing, even when he is in pain," Sandy said. "He is just jubilant, and his laugh is infectious."
Ethan weighs about 17 pounds. The minimum for a kidney transplant is 22 pounds. If Friday's procedure goes well, it's hoped he would be cleared for transplant before his 2nd birthday.
Unfortunately, donor kidneys from children are rare.
Sandy hopes she will be a match and can donate one of her kidneys. For that, Ethan will need to fight to grow big enough to accept an adult-sized kidney.
That fight starts Friday.
Ethan's mom says they know the surgery is extremely risky, but it's his best chance at a normal life, "Some people are just born fighting. He was fighting even before he was born."