Most parents can’t make the claim their child has never even had a messy room, but Trevor Oman’s mom and dad aren’t among them.
“He’s always been highly analytical; he has to understand everything – and always had to have everything in order.”
According to the people who know him best, Trevor is kind, intelligent and has a positive outlook on life. An excelling computer science major on a scholarship at Arizona State University, he’s got the relentlessly curious mind of an engineer and a heart for social issues.
He’s the kind of kid who spends time with his grandmother. His three younger brothers look up to him.
His dad, Brian Oman, vice president of Sales at Alpha Technologies, and stepmom Jamie, general ganager at Ahwatukee’s Café Boa restaurant, say Trevor is a one-of-a-kind kid.
He’s also got a one-of-a-kind disease.
Trevor, 20, has been diagnosed with stage four IGA nephropathy, a progressive condition that will ultimately mean his rapidly deteriorating kidneys will require dialysis – and a transplant.
Which means they’re in a race against time to find a kidney donor.
The Omans, who have each lived in Ahwatukee for 20 years, are willing to undergo testing – along with others in their tribe – to find a compatible match.
But if they don’t, the Omans are counting on Ahwatukee’s generosity. “We’re blessed to live in this beautiful community,” said Jamie. “I see it time and again; when the chips are down, people here rally to help each other out.”
In March 2018, Trevor suffered sudden and debilitating headaches. A spiked fever landed him in the doctor’s office, where Jamie was told to rush him to the ER immediately. Five days later, his family received the diagnosis that stopped them in their tracks.
IGA nephropathy is stealthy, lying dormant and presenting no symptoms for decades. Trevor never knew his body was host to an enemy; now his failing kidneys are functioning at just 17 to 18 percent. He will need an organ donation – and soon.
“It was scary,” said Brian. “We all had to take time to process it and then get down to business.”
“The hard part was that it had been going on for years, but there were no symptoms,” he added. “It had progressively become more damaging.”
Trevor was immediately put under the care of Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale and has been placed on the organ donation list.
But landing a kidney isn’t that easy.
Currently, 123,000 people are on the waiting list waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant – 101,000 of whom need a kidney. And only 17,000 people receive one each year.
Being placed on the list is a critical step, but it doesn’t exactly happen like it’s portrayed in the movies.
“Kidney recipients are placed in priority according to their age and health condition,” said Brian. In that sense, Trevor’s chances are better. But according to their care team at Mayo, the average wait for a deceased donor’s organ is three to five years.
And that’s just too long.
“Going on dialysis would change his life,” said Jamie.
Doctors explained that a live donor is an ideal option and suggested that someone in the family would need to become a “warrior,” and educate the community about kidney donation to find Trevor’s perfect match – starting with an O-positive blood type.
And at that moment, Jamie said she knew it was her mission.
“I’m going to blanket this community in an appeal for Trevor, and I have a good feeling about it. Ahwatukee’s always been there for us. And if someone else’s child is needed something, I’d want to help, too.”
The Omans, extended family members and close friends are currently undergoing testing to find a match. Testing for potential donors with O-positive blood is conducted free of charge at Mayo Clinic, as is the laparoscopic surgery and recovery and follow-up care. Candidates must be over 18 years of age and in good health who are not coping with cancer of any kind, or with conditions related to their own kidneys.
Kidneys are adaptable organs. Women can donate to men, and visa-versa. Also, a live donor can make the ultimate gift by giving a kidney to someone they don’t even know.
That’s part of their journey, too, said Jamie – to inspire others to consider giving the gift of life, even to strangers.
“According to our doctors at Mayo, adults who donate a kidney suffer no loss in functionality or quality of life – you’ll never know it’s gone,” Brian said.
The Omans understand the gravity of their appeal.
“In the process of giving an organ, someone else gets a quality of life, or a future,” he said. “And you build a forever bond. Who knows, you might be the one in need in the future. It’s a great way to pay it forward.”
Added Jamie: “You’d give Trevor a chance at a future – a chance to do something good for the world – a chance to have his own family.”
As for Trevor, his parents say he wasn’t exempt from the normal range of emotions when given the initial news. But then, his analytical side kicked in.
“He read everything he could get his hands on – research, community forums, medical journals. He’s very practical; now he wants to intern for a health insurance company. And he’s sure he wants to pursue a master’s degree,” said Brian.
“He just processed his way through it; he’s stuck to the diet which has profoundly prolonged the life of a kidney,” he added. “He’s shown a lot of discipline and is taking supreme care of himself.”
Becoming a “bonus mom,” Jamie said, has been challenging and rewarding. “I love these boys. I’ve enjoyed every minute – it’s been a gift from God.”
Jamie had no children of her own before marrying Brian. When Trevor became sick she said, “it became my life’s mission to get his story out there and tell everyone what an amazing, beautiful young man he is. No one would take better care of a kidney. He’s the best investment there is.”
To connect with the Omans, visit: facebook.com/beourherofortrevor.