TAMPA (WFLA) – Parents of a Tampa teenager with a rare gene attacking his kidneys are hoping for a Thanksgiving miracle in the form of a kidney donor.
“I like playing video games a lot. It’s the only thing I kind of do,” Raj Guntuku told 8 On Your Side’s Christine McLarty Thursday.
The teen said he’s a second-degree black belt in karate. When asked what word best describes himself, he picked “courage.”
“Courage, because in the video game I always try to beat the game no matter what,” he said.
His parents, Nehru and Rabha, said he’s courageous in real life too.
“He’s taking it so strongly, better than us as parents. I think it’s all the prayers that are working,” they said.
Raj started feeling sick in September. After many tests, doctors diagnosed him with Nephronophthisis.
“It’s one in a 920,000 people.”
Nehru said the gene mutation shows up in children when they turn 1, 13 or 19 years old. It showed up in Raj just one week before his 13th birthday.
Raj’s 17-year-old sister Bhavika was quickly tested and doesn’t have the gene. But she said she’s been worried for months because Raj is her best friend.
“It was definitely very hard to really do anything other than think about this,” she said.
Bhavika said she can’t donate her kidney because she’s too young, her mom has had kidney stones and her dad is the wrong blood type.
“I want people to know you can survive with one kidney. The reason we’re campaigning to such an extent is that both his kidneys are failing,” Bhavika said.
The family is searching for a living kidney donor. “It could save my life,” Raj said with a smile.
The family called the ad agency “Acme On The Go” to spread the word.
“He responded and said,’This is about the kid? I’ll do it for you for free, I won’t charge anything,'” Raj’s dad said, recalling his experience.
“We feel so grateful being in this community where everyone is helping,” said Raj’s mom.
To donate your kidney to Raj, you have to be between 21 to 49 years old and have blood type “O” positive or negative.
Raj says he’s hopeful and thankful.
“I’m thankful to you for spreading this out on the news!” he told 8 On Your Side.
Raj’s father, Nehru, can be reached at (813) 995-4815.
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