Superior tot’s battle with kidney disease inspires family — and troops overseas — to helpWhen the Beattie family of Superior takes part in Saturday’s Kidney Walk in Duluth in honor of 18-month-old Jackson Beattie, a group is doing the same in Afghanistan.
By: Steve Kuchera, Duluth News Tribune
When the Beattie family of Superior takes part in Saturday’s Kidney Walk in Duluth in honor of 18-month-old Jackson Beattie, a group is doing the same in Afghanistan.
Jackson was born with kidney damage and — despite four operations and constant medications — he needs a new kidney as soon as possible.
But finding a donor for Jackson is proving difficult. Perhaps only 8 in every 100 potential donors are a close enough match to Jackson that his body wouldn’t reject their donated organ. Two matching donors were found recently, but then Jackson’s antibodies went out of control and those donors are no longer matches.
“As soon as they find a donor they want to transplant him, because he will be as healthy as he can be,” Jackson’s mother, Sara Beattie, said Tuesday. “The medications he’s on are keeping his kidneys functioning just enough to do their job.”
“We walk to raise money in hopes research someday will save our son,” Sara Beattie said of her family’s team — Keepin’ It Renal. “We walk to educate others so they can avoid this horrible disease. And we walk to support organ donation because without this piece our son wouldn’t be given another opportunity at life.”
Keepin’ It Renal has a branch overseas, thanks to a high school classmate of Dave and Sara Beattie. In Afghanistan, Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan “Jonah” Shaul organized a kidney walk within his Army medevac company.
“He saw a posting on Facebook about all this stuff and he wanted to help,” Sara Beattie said. “It’s just amazing that he reached out and wanted to do this. He’s away from his own family, yet he’s worried about our family. A big heart there.”
Writing from Afghanistan via e-mail, Shaul said: “It’s so hard knowing what Dave and Sara are going through every day with Jackson, the fear, the hope, the fact that you have to rely on someone else’s generosity to save your child’s life. At the same time, though, it’s been inspirational to see how they are handling it. Their outlook has been so positive and they look at each day with Jackson as a blessing, and they make the most of it.
“I started off just joining their team and fundraising on my own,” he said. “Then, while talking to another pilot in my company, I mentioned the possibility of having our company participate and raise some money. She thought it was an excellent idea.”
The company’s schedule ruled out a traditional kidney walk on a single day.
“I encouraged everyone to keep track of how far they walk every day,” Shaul said. “We will total up the miles walked in the company from April 19th to (Saturday) and dedicate those miles to Jackson’s cause.”
So far, team Keepin’ It Renal has raised more than $12,900. The biggest fundraiser has been Jackson’s sister, Brooklyn, 8½. She has raised more than $4,000.
“She is a wonderful big sister,” Sara Beattie said. “She is so good to him and loves him so much.”
Beattie used the words “overwhelming” and “humbling” to describe the support the family has received.
“It’s great what awareness one little man with two crummy kidneys can raise,” she said.
As she spoke on the phone, Jackson lustily cried in the background because he wanted to go outside.
“He doesn’t sound like it now, but he does love life,” his mother said. “He’s just mad now because he’s an outdoorsman.”