Ascension teen has rare disease, needs new kidney

“There’s 10-15 percent function in her kidneys total. We have to find a living donor. Please think of the worst-case scenario, and that’s where we’re at.”

ASCENSION PARISH — Teen Lauren Swanson has been battling a rare autoimmune disease for three years. Now, she needs a kidney.

“About a week into COVID, she started showing signs we thought were allergy symptoms,” Lauren’s mother, Toni Swanson, said. “A week into that, we realized it was much more than that. Her legs started swelling.”

Toni said things sped up after that. Lauren stayed in the hospital for over three weeks. 

“We were isolated from family and everything had to be brought to us,” she recalled. “That season was scary. No one knew what was going on. Her blood pressure was off the chart. I was scared I would wake up and not have my child.”

She said doctors initially thought Lauren had Lupus, but biopsy results revealed Dense Deposit Disease (C3G).

Dense deposit disease (DDD) is a condition that primarily affects kidney function, according to the National Institute of Health. 

About half of the people affected will progress to kidney failure within 10 years of being diagnosed, and 85 percent will develop kidney failure within 20 years. The disease is often diagnosed in children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 15. According to DaVita Kidney Care, the rare condition affects only two or three people in every million.

“She has gotten to the point where doctors and specialists have gone through every avenue and exhausted every option,” Toni said. “Now we are connected with the University of Iowa. They are the only ones that have confidently told us it’s C3G. It attacks both kidneys simultaneously. There’s 10-15 percent function in her kidneys total. We have to find a living donor. Please think of the worst-case scenario, and that’s where we’re at.”

Moni said her daughter is a senior and has spent her entire high school career in and out of hospitals. She said the goal is to keep Lauren off dialysis before a transplant so she can attend homecoming, prom and play softball. Trial drugs will be approved once she has a viable kidney. Lauren is the youngest of four kids and wants to be an athletic trainer. One of her goals is to attend LSU.

“She is the life of the family,” Toni said of her daughter. “She is the person who, when things get hard, pulls us out and gives us a laugh. She battles this disease and the challenges like a champ. I’m in awe of her. I want to be her when I grow up. God has designed her in a way where she is the epitome of what you want your child to be.”

“I’ve had to learn over the course of three years to stay in my lane,” she added. “I can only be mom. I can’t control any of this. I celebrate when she celebrates and cry when she cries. Her sisters and dad are the support staff. We don’t give up and don’t allow her to give up.”

WATCH NOW: Woman scrolling FB saw someone was in need of a kidney so she donated hers to complete stranger

To support the family, you can donate here.

If you or someone you know decides to register to donate a kidney, private message Toni Swanson or email with any questions in the UIHC questionnaire.

There is no out of pocket medical testing to the donor. The transplant location and Swanson’s insurance covers all prescreening, transplant, and hospital stay costs up to discharge.

You can apply online through University of Iowa Health Center.

Download the Unfiltered with Kiran app from the Apple App Store and Google Play to stay updated on any new developments.

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