16-year-old high school student battling stage 4 kidney failure; needs kidney donor


**Embargo: Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, PA**

Alex Kepner, 16, has several health issues and is in stage 4 kidney failure. Now he and his mom are looking for a living donor.

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YORK TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Being a teen has it’s challenges. Between high school, fitting in, and growing out of that awkward phase, it can be a lot to deal with. But one York County teen has a lot more on his plate, WPMT reports.

16-year-old Alex Kepner is a junior at Dallastown High School. While everything seems fine on the outside, Alex has several health issues and is in stage 4 kidney failure. The family says this is so rare for a person his age, he’s actually part of a case study. Now he and his mom are looking for a living donor.

Alex is on the autism spectrum. He’s also almost legally blind. He’s not too happy about his braces, either. Let’s not forget about the braces.

“Dealing with health issues and school and just, social life as a teenager – it’s very stressful and overwhelming to deal with all of those at once,” Alex said.

But about a year ago something happened that made those problems seem like nothing.

“I am in stage four kidney failure,” Alex said. “My kidney is working from about 18% I believe and right now we’re looking for a living donor.”

Alex was diagnosed with a kidney disease of unknown origin. They caught it while taking a blood test for a different medication. But Alex’s mom said he’s remained positive since day one.

“I’ve always been kind of amazed by how cheerful this kid has been because I mean, it’s not like he hasn’t been bullied or anything like that,” Jennifer Fink, his mom, said. “I was really surprised because teachers would contact me, saying ‘somebody’s been picking on Alex,’ or ‘this person has been bullying Alex,’ and he’d come home and I’m like ‘how was your day?’ and he said ‘it was fine, it was good,’ and I’m like ‘okay!'”

Now Alex is hoping to have some good news by the time his 17th birthday rolls around in May.

“I know that it will get better so I’m not necessarily super upset about it,” Alex said. “Because I know it will get better.”

“He needs to catch a break,” Fink said. “So we’re hoping find a donor will help him catch the break he needs.”

Alex can receive a kidney from a deceased donor, but a kidney transplant has a higher success rate if it comes from a living donor. If you or someone you know is interested in helping Alex, give the transplant team at Penn State Hershey Medical Center a call at 717-531-6092.

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