Twins Ben and Matthew LeBlanc were born prematurely, at 32 weeks, in 2012 and were immediately admitted to the IWK’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Ben did very well and was discharged after five weeks. Unfortunately, Matthew’s experience was much different—he was born with kidneys that were not functioning and at just three days old, he began dialysis to keep him alive.
Matthew spent the next three months in the NICU and three more months on 6-Link, the IWK’s nephrology inpatient unit for kidney care. At six months old, he was finally able to go home for the first time, where he continued to receive dialysis for 12 hours each night until he was 19 months old. That’s when Matthew was finally big enough to receive a kidney transplant. That transplant came from his father, Andy.
It was a long and nerve-wracking day for Matthew’s mom, Tonia, whose husband and child were both in surgery. Fortunately, the transplant was a success. Matthew did well at first but became very sick with a bowel infection a few weeks later. It impacted his new kidney, and he had to go back on dialysis for a short time. Thankfully, once he recovered, his new kidney started working again.
Matthew was able to go home eight weeks after his transplant, and that’s when his parents really noticed a difference in him—he started pulling himself up, crawling and talking so much more. Tonia and Andy say he was a whole new child!
With Matthew’s health stabilized, the family decided to move back home to Cape Breton. For the next seven years, Matthew continued to be followed closely by the IWK. While there were some ups and downs, he could do all the everyday kid things like swimming, riding a bike and going to school.
Then in 2020 came the news they were dreading—Matthew’s kidney was failing. While Tonia and Andy had known he would eventually need another transplant, they had hoped it wouldn’t have been so soon. This time, Matthew had to go on the transplant list.
As the months went on, Matthew got sicker and sicker. One day, he couldn’t even walk up the stairs, and Tonia and Andy knew he would need dialysis once again very soon. But thankfully, before that happened, they got the call they had been waiting for—a matching kidney was found!
Matthew received his second successful kidney transplant in May 2021. His recovery went much smoother this time, and he could go home four weeks after the surgery. Matthew continues to be followed very closely by the IWK. He’s feeling the best he ever has and is back to just being a typical 10-year-old boy who loves gaming, swimming, and playing with his twin.