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Letter to the Editor: ‘What about Cole?’

Throughout my many years of living in the Perham area, I have witnessed the generosity and kindness of this community when there was a need. The young, the old, the business owner, child, husband, wife and extended family lend their strengths, as the community pulls together to show their support and prayers for ones in need.

So, I asked myself, ‘What about Cole?’

Cole Buchanan is a 2011 Perham graduate. Upon first glance, you would never know how sick he is. The strength I have witnessed that this young man has for his family, himself and all others is amazing to me.

Cole was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease at the age of 17.

Polycystic kidney disease, or PKD, is the most common of all life-threatening genetic diseases, affecting more people than Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, hemophilia, sickle cell anemia and Huntington’s disease combined.

There is no treatment for PKD, and no cure. Those like Cole, who inherit PKD, develop fluid-filled cysts on both kidneys. Over time, these cysts grow and multiply, causing the kidneys to increase in size. A normal kidney is roughly the size of a fist; PKD kidneys can grow to be the size of a football or larger, and can weigh as much as 30 pounds each.

In addition to having PKD, Cole has some other underlying medical conditions. He struggles to lead a normal life, with the support of his mother, younger brother and friends, but his disease makes this hard to do. Unable to work and in constant pain, a trip to the Mayo Clinic gave Cole and his family high hopes of some kind of miracle. Unfortunately, that was not the case: Cole’s doctor informed them that his disease has progressed 30 years faster than normal.

I feel blessed for getting to meet and know this family. Cole is a very intelligent young man, with one dream, and that is to go to college. But, not wanting to go into debt with no means of repayment, the family has hit another wall.

So, with Cole’s permission, a few of the family’s close friends will be holding a benefit in Cole’s name on Saturday, March 15 at The Cactus in Perham, from 4 p.m. to close.

Cole’s only hope is that he can further educate people on PKD. Our hope is to help defer expenses due to his many doctor’s appointments, and education expenses so he can attend online college classes.

Kyre Hatcher

Perham, MN