Pediatric Nephrology Patient Testimonial
Fear and Uncertainty
Jennifer Toda glanced over at her, then 12-year-old, daughter Kaylee and gasped. “It was terrifying,” Toda recalled. “Kaylee’s eyes were glazed over. It was as if she was looking through me, not at me. Then Kaylee whispered, ‘I can’t…,” and passed out.”
“I was standing with my mom and all of a sudden I had tunnel vision,” Kaylee explained. “I didn’t know what was happening. Then I fell.” That incident was the beginning of what would be a long and confusing journey for the Toda family. Blood tests taken after Kaylee passed out revealed her kidneys were struggling to function.
“I was very scared,” Kaylee shared. “I was going from doctor to doctor at a different health system and being tested. I felt like I had some strange condition no one knew how to fix.” Her doctor at the time told Kaylee and her family that he did not know exactly what was going on, only that her kidneys were not working properly.
Metro Health Referral Success
For nearly three years, Kaylee continued to see this physician without any change in her condition. Finally, she and her family decided it was time to seek a second opinion and return to the hospital system they knew and trusted. Kaylee was already a long-time primary care patient of Metro Health – University of Michigan Health physician Randall Duthler, MD, and he quickly referred Kaylee to Metro Health pediatric nephrologist Mary Avendt-Reeber, MD.
“I began seeing Kaylee in January of 2018, less than a week after the referral from Dr. Duthler,” Dr. Avendt-Reeber recalled. “I worked like a detective to find a correct diagnosis. I picked up on subtle hints from talking with Kaylee, and I analyzed the results of an ultrasound and other lab work.”
Within the first five minutes of meeting with Dr. Avendt-Reeber, Toda knew she was the right choice. “She ordered the correct tests and explained what she was doing every step of the way.”
Kaylee agreed, “I thought Dr. Avendt-Reeber was great. At that first appointment, she was funny and interactive. She even drew explanations on the paper bed sheet of what was going on inside my body.”
A Stunning Diagnosis
Kaylee went through several tests that first appointment including a VCUG procedure, which uses special x-ray technology to visualize the urinary tract and bladder. Dr. Avendt-Reeber was able to see that urine was flowing backward from Kaylee’s kidneys up into her bladder. It’s not clear when the condition began, but over the years it severely damaged her kidneys, and they were now functioning at only 50% of capacity. Kaylee was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease stage 3.
“What?!,” Toda remembers exclaiming. “We knew Kaylee had a problem, but we didn’t know it was that serious. We suddenly felt a rush of emotions. We were mad, happy and scared – all at the same time.”
Dr. Avendt-Reeber consulted with University of Michigan Health urologist Kate Kraft, MD, and they discussed surgery to correct Kaylee’s condition. During Kaylee’s spring break, she traveled to Ann Arbor for ureter re-implant surgery to repair the connection between her bladder and kidneys.
Hope for a Healthy Future
“My hope is that this surgery will correct the problem and prevent further damage,” Dr. Avendt-Reeber said. “Unfortunately, Kaylee will always have chronic kidney disease. We can’t correct the damage that was already done, but hopefully we’ve gotten to the root of the problem to prevent more from happening.”
Now Kaylee feels great and she’s hopeful she’ll feel even better in the coming months. “Kaylee got her life back,” Toda happily reported. “My husband and I say Dr. Avendt-Reeber saved her. Kaylee could have died if this wasn’t treated in time.”
“They are caring at Metro,” Kaylee smiled. “I’ve had a good experience, and I finally found someone to listen to me and take action.”
“They are such a great family,” Dr. Avendt-Reeber said of the Todas. “I’m able to teach them about Kaylee’s condition, and they help her live a healthy lifestyle. The relationships between physicians and families are so important because we’re all on the same team. We all want the best for the patient.”