By Ellen Thompson/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
BOX ELDER - When Dawn St. Marks has a free moment, she spends it worrying about her son, who needs a new kidney. When her son, Eddie LaMere, is not resting, he worries about the effect his illness has on his family.
LaMere was in a car accident in 1998 that left him and a friend paralyzed and in wheelchairs. For the past three years, LaMere's kidneys have not been functioning properly, and in the last month his kidneys have worsened dramatically. St. Marks said the doctors have told her the problem is either a result of her son's accident, or the numerous medications he must take, 10 different types.
St. Marks is asking for the blood types of 18 friends and family members she has sought out, or who have called her, hoping to find a kidney donor among them.
LaMere was 17 when he was in the car accident. During his six months in the hospital, he completed homework sent by his school and in 2000 he graduated from Box Elder High School. In his family's living room, there are pictures of LaMere at the school prom with friends and family.
He had hoped to go to college but for the past few years he has been in and out of the hospital.
"I'm just happy to be alive," he said. "I could have died in that car wreck."
When LaMere is well, he enjoys working on cars, playing with his dogs, and riding around town with friends.
LaMere said that since his accident he has done his best to live a normal life despite a disability, something friends and family agree that he's achieved.
He's found innovative ways to continue to do the activities he likes, including using a length of wood to control the gas and brake on his car in order to drive it himself. His mother since purchased hand controls for him to use in the car, but LaMere hasn't had a chance to install them since he became ill.
"I was always wheeling around," he said. But recently he has been too tired for any of his normal activities. "I'm not used to that" he added.
The first time LaMere fixed a car was several years ago, before the accident. He had to change a fuel injection system in a car. Then he began to add rims and television screens into cars he bought before reselling them. Most of what he knows about cars he taught himself or learned from the Internet, he said.
When he has his energy back, he looks forward to getting back to his cars. His favorite car, an IROC racing car, needs some work, he said.
Now, he spends most of his waking hours watching movies with his sister, Tia St. Marks, and his wife, Leona Roasting Stick.
On Dec. 21, LaMere's doctors will hold a meeting to explain some options, St. Marks said.
One option might be a trip to Seattle to have a transplant at a special kidney center there, she said, though she worries about family members being separated from one another.
LaMere's physician, Dr. Forrest Lanchbury, said many kidney transplants for patients in Montana are done in Seattle or Spokane. Most people must wait a year or two for a transplant, he said, but LaMere won't be able to wait that long without starting dialysis.
An infection last month reduced LaMere's kidney function by half, Lanchbury said.
If St. Marks finds a family member or friend with a blood type compatible with LaMere's B positive, and compatible with genetic factors, the wait will be shorter.
St. Marks hopes to have family members tested soon, including LaMere's sisters, to find a good match. Many friends and family member have contacted her, eager to help, she said.