Soource: The Kearny Observer
Jared Velazquez, age 17, was looking forward to his senior year of playing varsity baseball and soccer at North Arlington High School, and also being a member of the prestigious Ironbound Soccer Club. “I figured I could have a good future perhaps playing soccer in college,” Jared says. “This was going to be a pretty good opportunity to show the scouts that I could play.”
But when practices began in September, Jared didn’t feel right. “I was beginning to feel nauseous all the time. It started getting worse — I was afraid to eat anything. I told my mother that we had to go to the doctor.” An initial test showed that “my blood pressure skyrocketed — the doctor said to go the emergency room right away.”
At Hackensack University Medical Center, “The doctor told me that there was something seriously wrong with my kidneys,” Jared says. It turned out to be focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), which attacks the tiny filtering units inside the kidneys where blood is cleaned — and eventually renders the kidneys useless.
“Both of my kidneys are really small and are operating at 15 percent capacity,” Jared explains. “The doctors believe that this had been happening for a long time and it just never showed up in a physical.” FSGS is very rare among teenagers. Though Jared’s FSGS has been determined to be non-genetic, his uncle Ricardo needed a kidney transplant from Jared’s grandmother at the age of 49. Jared’s having been born two months prematurely might also be a factor.
Jared was fitted with a stent in order to receive the dialysis treatment that is required three times a week. Before qualifying for a transplant (which must be from a living donor), his high blood pressure (hypertension) must be under control. His family — father Luis, mother Lizzette and sister Lauren, a softball and soccer player at North Arlington High –- remains close knit through the trials and tribulations.
“It’s been a blessing that he still has the same state of mind,” Luis says. “As parents, of course, we worry about the worst. But then we see his attitude and his ability to just take it all in. He makes us all more comfortable and enables us to deal with it.”
Jared still goes to practices and works in non-contact drills: “I’m still playing soccer with my teammates — I’m just not playing in regular games.” He hopes to study physical therapy in college and become an athletic trainer.
“This was all just a little setback,” he says. “Once I get the transplant, I’ll be fine — I’ll be able to play soccer again.”
Anyone interested in being a donor for Jared Velazquez or testing to be a donor should call the Hackensack University Medical Center Transplant Team at (551) 996-2608.