BATTLE GROUND, Wash. — Justin Carey has overcome more hurdles in life than most.
When he was 16 years old, he survived a traumatic hit-and-run crash in that took his leg. He had to learn walk again, and still managed to graduate high school on time with his classmates.
Now, at 22, he faces another fight for his life. Carey, who is from Battle Ground, has kidney failure.
“I never wanted to have to go through something life-threatening again,” his mom, Janette Chumley, said.
Chumley said her son has always been a fighter. He was born early and only had a 13% chance of survival. This is another battle he plans to win.
“He fought to come in the world, he fought to stay in the world in 2013, and here he is again beating the odds,” Chumley said.
In 2013, Carey was walking to a school bus stop when he was hit by a driver. He was left in a ditch for hours until a tow truck driver found him. Carey had a brain injury and lost his leg, but he survived.
Carey continued to overcome the odds by learning to walk with his prosthetic leg in just two weeks. He also worked hard to graduate high school on time with his classmates, just two years after the horrific crash.
“He just sees challenges forward and once he gets into that mindset, he conquers it,” Chumley said.
As Carey healed from the physical injuries, the emotional scars remained. He and his family sat through two criminal trials to see the driver in that crash face justice.
Now, a new battle lies ahead. In June, Carey was diagnosed with advanced renal failure.
“We never expected it. We had no idea,” Chumley said.
He went to the doctor for something unrelated and that's when doctors gave Carey and his mom the devastating diagnosis.
“I was just in complete shock,” Chumley said. “I feel like things are finally getting ready for us to kind of heal and get over things and then this pops up. So, it was very overwhelming news.”
Carey was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). It is a disease in which scar tissue develops on the parts of the kidneys that filter waste from the blood.
The family thought the renal failure might be connected to his injuries from the crash in 2013, but it turns out it's genetic.
Carey's younger brother, Jackota, also has kidney disease, but it isn't as far along. Right now, doctors said the siblings have the same condition.
Carey’s kidneys are functioning at 18% right now. At 15%, patients normally start dialysis, but Carey has already been referred to the transplant team, according to Chumley.
“Obviously if we can't find a match, things will not turn out the way we hope, but we're just hoping for a miracle,” Chumley said.
Chumley said her son is ready for the fight and she has faith he will find a kidney donor.
“We prayed for him to survive the accident. We prayed for him to be able to adapt to his new world as an amputee. All of those things have come into fruition,” she said. “So, being a family of faith, we know that this is going to turn out the same.”
On Sunday, Sept. 22, the family will take part in the “Strut Your Kidney” event in Portland. The event raises money and awareness for children with chronic kidney disease. Carey’s team name is “Share Your Spare.” You can donate to team Share Your Spare or sign up to participate here.
You can follow Carey's story at the “Praying for Justin” Facebook page. You can also reach out to Chumley about being a kidney donor match on the Facebook page.
Carey is currently a kidney transplant patient at Oregon Health & Science University Hospital. For more information on kidney donation, visit OHSU's website.