THE parents of a Stourbridge teenager with a rare kidney disease are appealing for other youngsters with a kidney condition to come forward to offer support for their son.
Jake Woolfenden was a fit and healthy 18-year-old, until he was rushed to Russells Hall Hospital with a large blood clot on his leg in May last year.
His world was turned upside down when tests showed he had focal segmental glomerulonesclerosis (FSGS), a rare disease that causes the immune system to attack and slowly destroy the kidneys.
The condition means Jake’s kidney function will deteriorate until eventually, his kidneys fail completely.
It is possible that he will need a kidney transplant in the future, but the disease will continue to attack the donor kidney, as it did his own.
Jake, now 19, has to take 22 tablets a day, follow a restricted diet plan and must wear compression tights for the rest of his life to control the condition.
Before the diagnosis, Jake, of Norton Road, was training to be a telecommications rigger at A&S Rigging in Kidderminster, where he worked alongside his father, Adrian.
As he was unable to continue in that role, bosses found a new position for him in the warehouse.
His father said: “Both bosses have been fantastically understanding about Jake’s condition. The the new position allows him rest days and time to attend hospital appointments.”
Although Jake is continuing to work and go about his daily life, his mother, Bridgette, said he has many questions about his condition that she can’t answer.
She said: “It’s hard to watch. When he was diagnosed he had just finished college and got his first job, we were thinking he was going to leave home and fulfil his dreams.
“He was fit and healthy before the blood clot.
“He has coped amazingly well but he comes to us with questions that we don’t know how to answer.
“He emails people around the country but it would be better if he could see someone face-to-face that knows what he is going through.”
Mrs Woolfenden added: “Thousands of people out there could have kidney disease but have no idea, it’s a silent killer.
“When you look at people, you have no idea if their lives are being turned upside down.”
Mr Woolfenden has urged any young person with a kidney condition to get in touch by calling 07813078256 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.