In 2013, a 14-year-old girl had a serious nosebleed that wouldn’t quit. Crystal’s parents were so concerned that they took her to the doctor. What happened next changed this Texas family forever.
While at the doctor, Crystal was diagnosed with something unrelated to the nosebleed — a serious kidney disease called juvenile nephronophthisis, which can lead be life-threatening. She needed a transplant, and fast. Crystal’s parents jumped at the chance to have their kidneys tested to see if they qualified as donors. Her mother, Cristy Enns, was tested first. Doctors found a spot on Cristy’s kidney, which led to further tests, which led to Christy being diagnosed with kidney cancer. Crystal’s father Mark was then tested. He, too, had kidney cancer. The news sent shockwaves through the family.
But because both Mom and Dad’s cancer was caught so early — and all because of Crystal’s nosebleed — both parents were able to be treated without chemotherapy. “We are overwhelmed with gratitude to God for allowing us to find out about her kidney disease when we did because Mark and I would never have been tested otherwise,” Cristy told ABC News. “The timing of her nosebleed allowed us to begin the donor screening process early, with plenty of time to discover and take care of our alarming cancer diagnosis before it came time for Crystal’s transplant.”
Dr. Albert Quan, the man who led the Enns’ family treatment, said he’d never seen a case like this in 25 years. He’s now in the midst of working to determine a possible genetic factor that links Crystal, Cristy, and Mark’s kidney condition.
As for Crystal’s kidney disease, her aunt made the perfect match. This brave teen underwent kidney transplant surgery and will head to school next month. Her parents hope their story encourages others to consider being organ donors.
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