A Life-Changing Nosebleed

Twist of fate saves three lives

An unusually heavy nosebleed led doctors to diagnose 14-year-old Crystal Enns of Wylie, Texas, with a rare kidney disease, and much more.

In January 2013, the teenager had a nosebleed so severe she stayed home from school. When the bleeding wouldn’t stop, her mother took her to the doctor.

Enns’ bloody nose allowed doctors to discover her cancer based on other symptoms.

Through routine screening, doctors discovered she had juvenile nephronophthisis, a rare kidney disease that was serious enough to require a transplant. The disease causes inflammation and scarring of the kidneys and leads to failure of kidney function, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The young woman needed a new kidney. Both her parents had matching blood types, making them eligible donors. However, when her mother, Cristy, began the screening process, doctors discovered a suspicious spot on her kidney, which led to a cancer diagnosis. The teenager’s dad, Mark Enns, was then screened and discovered that he also had kidney cancer – the same type as his wife.

Twenty-six million American adults have kidney disease — and most don’t know it.

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Amanda Crowley, program manager with the National Kidney Foundation, said 26 million American adults have kidney disease — and most don’t know it. Of the more than 123,000 Americans on the waiting list for a life-saving organ transplant, 101,000 need a kidney. Fewer than 17,000 people receive one each year, and every day 12,000 people die waiting for a kidney transplant.

Kidney disease is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States.

Crystal Enns’ bloody nose, which oddly had no connection to the juvenile nephronophthisis diagnosis, allowed doctors to properly diagnose her based on other symptoms. Her aunt was found to be a donor match, and doctors successfully performed a kidney transplant last April.

The teenager is now in her senior year of high school, and her parents are healthy as well.

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