Kids and teens in foster care go through some of the most heartbreaking experiences one can imagine. Not having a family to call their own, bouncing from one home to another, having to acclimate to new surroundings sometimes dozens and dozens of times. The mental and emotional toll of not having a family is something they grapple with for the rest of their lives. But beyond that, there are logistical issues that being in foster care can present, and some of those can actually effect the long-term medical needs of kids. That's the situation a 13-year-old boy named Damien found himself in, before he found a home with a rather unlikely family. Now, Damien has a stable, loving place to live, and is on the road to getting the kidney transplant he desperately needs.
Damien has been in the foster care system for many years, and has moved around from family to family without any stability. Compounding matters is the fact that at the age of 8, Damien's kidneys failed and he had to go on dialysis. He's spent a lot of time in hospitals; one stay, he was there for a year. Because of his lack of a stable home, Damien was kept off the transplant list. His itinerant lifestyle meant that he was at high-risk for organ rejection, and the long hospital stays were the result of being placed with guardians who were not trained to deal with his medical needs.
Because of his illness, Damien is on a very strict diet, and spends more than 12 hours a day hooked to a dialysis machine. He needed a home with a guardian who was prepared to deal with the issues related to his illness, and proved a loving, stable environment so Damien could eventually get a kidney transplant.
That's where Finn Lanning stepped in. Lanning is Damien's math teacher, and the two met at the beginning of the school year in 2018. Lanning says he recognized that Damien was special, and knew that caring for him would be a challenge. But he felt called to provide a home for the boy, and in December of 2018, he began training to care for him.
The two have formed a very special bond, sharing a love of math and food. Because of Damien's illness, he has to follow a strict diet, and Lanning spends around $200 a week just on groceries (he's started a GoFundMe to help with the costs of providing basic needs). Lanning also takes off work from his teaching job twice a week to take Damien to various medical appointments; his coworkers have donated their vacation time to cover the time lost. Right now, all that matters is providing a stable home for Damien, so that he can get a new kidney. But down the road, Lanning hopes to adopt Damien. We love this story so much, and we hope that Damien gets his kidney so he can enjoy his new life soon!
READ NEXT: What Are The Different Types Of Adoption?