It’s National Organ Donor Day and one local teen is still fighting for his life

It’s National Organ Donor Day and one local teen is still fighting for his life
Posted at 5:28 AM, Feb 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-14 08:43:22-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Valentine's Day isn't just about chocolate and flowers.  February 14 is also National Organ Donor Day.

Myles in dialysis

According to the United States information on organ donation and transplantation, more than 100,000 men, women and children are on the waiting list, and 20 people die each day waiting for a transplant.

One person can donate up to eight lifesaving organs, according to government statistics.

There are also living donors who can donate organs like kidneys, which is what would save Chesapeake teenager Myles Grate's life. The Indian River High School senior hopes sharing his story will encourage people to take action for others in his shoes, too.

"Even though I really need [a new kidney], it doesn't have to be me. You can go help somebody else," he said. "Just help somebody!"

When Myles was just a toddler, doctors diagnosed him with atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS). It is a rare and deadly kidney disease.

"It was so scary when he got sick," said his mother Denise Grate. "It was as if someone had hit me in the head with a brick."

Mrs. Grate was a perfect match. She donated her kidney to her son. "Thank God I was a match," she said. "As soon as they did the transplant, it started working." However, kidney transplants do not last forever.

Statistics suggest living donor transplants usually last between 12 and 20 years.  Myles' transplanted kidney started failing in 2015.

"We knew even back then that it was maintenance," said Myles' mother. "It was not a cure."

His father wanted to donate one of his kidneys, but his diabetes diagnosis took him out of the running.

"It would have been my honor, my pleasure, my joy to give him a kidney, but unfortunately I can`t," said Jerome Grate.

"What's better than not helping anybody is helping one person," Myles said.

While Myles is on a waiting list for a new kidney, he needs a transplant soon. He endures dialysis at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters most days a week, for several hours at a time. The treatments cause him to routinely miss class time during his senior year.

Yet, his spirit and outlook are positive.

"Even with the projectile vomiting, the seizures, and the falling asleep all the time, I was just like, it's just something I have to deal with," he said. "It's just another day at work for me."

Myles has a deep love for superheroes, and often creates his own characters.  He hopes to be a famous movie director one day, and that dream is keeping him focused and full of faith.

"Try to have faith like I do," he said. "It's a matter of when not if."

Myles is looking for donors who are blood types O or A. If you would like to take action for him, contact the Sentara Transplant Center at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital at 757-388-3906 or 1-800-865-7644. You can also take a kidney donor survey by clicking here.

For general information about organ donation and a list of transplant centers in Virginia, visit the Donate Life Virginia website.