In dire need

By DANIEL MARSH Published April 8, 2012 at 2:15 a.m.
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— At first, Braedon Malardier of Atkins refused to have his picture taken. As he lay in the dialysis unit of Arkansas Children’s Hospital, receiving his second hemodialysis treatment of the week, he plucked the covers over his face.

He brightened, however, when offered the chance to take photos of himself and his mom, Jennifer, who was sitting next to him. Braedon, 10, gleefully shot about a dozen pictures, then consented to having his own taken.

Braedon - who has no kidneys and was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome at age 2 - and Jennifer had just returned from Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, where Braedon recently had a fistula placed in his arm.

“It was tiring,” Jennifer said of their third trip to Houston since January.

Braedon received his fistula earlier this month, after doctors “ran out of places” to put any more of the catheters through which he received hemodialysis. The fistula, which will allow him to continue taking treatments three times a week at ACH, represents another step in the long journey he and his parents have been on since 2004.

Doctors told the family Wednesday, however, that the fistula wasn’t working properly. Braedon’s need for a new kidney is more dire than before, with the news from Houston that his fistula is not functioning as doctors had hoped.

“They said the transplant has to happen sooner,” Jennifer said.

Braedon’s father, Brandon, and Brandon’s mother are potential donors, as well as Jennifer herself, but doctors have yet to determine from which donor the kidney will come.

“They both have to be tested,” Jennifer said.

Jennifer said that not long after Braedon turned 2, she and Brandon began noticing Braedon was gaining an unusual amount of weight.

“You know how your face will sometimes get puffy with allergies?” she said. “He was like that, but he went from a size 2T to a 6 in just a couple of weeks. He got really lethargic and just didn’t want to do anything. For an active 2-year-old, it wasn’t right.”

At the time, the Malardiers lived in Hope, and Brandon was a truck driver. Jennifer said they took Braedon to the emergency room at Wadley Hospital in Texarkana, Texas. It was there that he was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome, a disease in which the filters in the kidneys are too large and allow waste to collect in the tissues, causing swelling.

Wadley referred Braedon to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Doctors told Jennifer and Brandon that though there is no cure for nephrotic syndrome, Braedon would probably outgrow the disease by the time he turned 5. But other complications - including bacterial meningitis - kept him hospitalized. Tests revealed that he was resistant to the steroids being used to treat the syndrome. A biopsy classified his diagnosis as steroid-resistant nephropathy.

“We decided in March 2005 to remove Braedon’s kidneys,” Jennifer said. “They just weren’t getting better.”

He was put on peritoneal dialysis, a procedure that Jennifer and Brandon were able to do at home while Braedon slept.

In June 2007, Braedon received a kidney transplant from an unknown deceased donor, but the kidney was removed in October 2007 after the boy woke up one morning complaining of cramps in his stomach. His disease had attacked the new kidney and killed it.

Jennifer said Braedon was put back on peritoneal dialysis, but an infection prompted doctors to place him on hemodialysis. Today the Malardiers - including their second son, Jacob - live in Russellville with Jennifer’s parents, and she and Braedon come to Little Rock on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the treatments.

“We stay stressed,” Jennifer said. “Braedon has his days. Most of the time he’s upbeat. He tries to make everyone laugh.”

Je n n i fe r and Br and on hoped to have a home of their own before Braedon received his transplant.

“He needs a safe haven,” Jennifer said of Braedon. “I grew up on Crow Mountain, and there is a mobile home up there that we would love to have, but we can’t get financing right now due to our medical bills.”

Jennifer said her son still leads as normal a life as possible, doing his homework and playing with his younger brother.

“He’s a country boy at heart,” she said, “and he’s my shopping buddy. He loves to go shopping for shoes.”

Fundraisers are planned to assist the family. Jennifer has designed T-shirts that sell for $12 to $15 each, and a walkathon is scheduled for 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Atkins High School track. On May 5, an all-you-can-eat fish fry will be held from 4-8 p.m. at the Pottsville Elementary School Cafeteria. The event will also feature a silent auction and gospel singing.

A benefit fund for the family has been established at Rivertown Bank under Benefit for Braedon Malardier.

Staff writer Daniel A. Marsh can be reached at (501) 399-3688 or dmarsh@arkansasonline.com.

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