Matt Gingras’ son, Luke, has come a long way. A physical therapist at Mercy Health – West Hospital, Matt and his wife, Katie, learned Luke had a congenital anomaly known as bladder outlet obstruction (BOO) at a 19-week pregnancy ultrasound. While in utero, a tiny shunt was placed in his bladder to allow urine to exit his body.
After weekly visits to check the shunt and measure amniotic fluid levels, “BOO baby” Lucas Matthew Gingras was born in April of 2022 with kidney function at less than 15 percent of normal.
“Through the power and miracle of prayer, that one little shunt – which doctors say oftentimes becomes dislodged, requiring a second or third shunt be placed – stayed in place all the way until he was born naturally at 37 weeks, which is unheard of for these kids,” Matt explains. “Everything was fine with his development, besides his kidneys.”
At a year and a half old, Luke was diagnosed with End Stage Regnal Disease. He needed a transplant.
That’s a lot on the family, who also have a 3-and-a-half-year-old son, Max, at home. Plus, neither Matt nor his wife, also a physical therapist, is a suitable donor.
Matt took two weeks off when Max was born. But fortunately, shortly before Luke arrived, our ministry introduced an eight-week paid parental leave.
“It could not have come at a better time as we spent the first three weeks in the neonatal ICU,” Matt recalls. “When we were able to come home, we had to not only adjust to his medical condition, but he had two to three follow-up appointments each week initially, which would have been near impossible for my wife to manage alone.”
“It’s still a challenge and it’s been a rollercoaster,” Matt admits. “There’s been some really tough times and some really good times. We’re very lucky – blessed – to have a really strong support system in our lives.”
Both of Luke’s maternal grandparents are registered nurses and help as Luke’s caregivers since Katie and Matt work full time. Matt’s parents live in Pittsburgh, but often come to town to help, too.
Matt had seen the support our ministry provides team members during his two clinical rotations before joining the ministry from graduate school in 2017.
“My coworkers have been over the top in their support from the day we found out about Luke’s condition and since he was born,” Matt shares. “There have been times I have had to leave work on sudden notice to take Luke to a doctor’s office, or even a few times when Luke had to be hospitalized. Luckily, my outpatient therapy coworkers always found ways to get my patients in, even if meant coming in early or staying late themselves just so I can be with my family in times of need.”
The Gingras family got the call they had prayed for on Jan. 23. The next day, Luke underwent six hours of surgery and now has a new kidney.
Matt thanks all who had been part of their journey and asks for prayers for a family who lost a loved one — whose kidney was an excellent match for Luke.
“That person is our family’s hero,” he adds.
Having a sick child puts things in perspective. “It definitely puts you to the test,” he acknowledges.
“Luke’s a miracle in himself,” Matt continues. “There are very good moments when he’s laughing, talking to you. Throws his arms around you to hug, falls asleep in your arms. There are those moments when you understand all the hard work, all the sleepless nights – it’s worth it. We’re not sure what he’s going to do yet in his life but he’s going to do something special, and we’re going to make sure he has the opportunity to do so.”
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