Cranston Market, Armenian Community Hope to Help Toddler Get Kidney

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By Sam Read

CRANSTON, R.I. (WJAR) — A popular Cranston market and deli is hoping to help a local one-year-old in desperate need of a living kidney donor.

Garen Yepremian was born with end-stage chronic renal kidney disease and has been on dialysis since he was four months old.

Garen’s family is originally from Lebanon but live in Cranston.

“When my wife was pregnant, they noticed there was an issue with the kidneys. The urine was shooting up instead of down. The fluids were damaging the kidney tissues,” said Sebouh Yepremian, Garen’s dad. “They kept monitoring it. The doctors were like when he’s born, we will fix it, everything will be fine. But then five days later, it was different.”

“They didn’t know the kidneys would be that damaged,” added his wife, Annie.

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Garen has to be fed through a tube and he can’t eat solids. He’s on oxygen at night and takes about 12 medications to keep his electrolytes stable.

Now, the family is searching for a living kidney donor.

“He’s going to have a second transplant in his life, so we want to postpone that by at least having his first transplant be a living kidney donor because that lasts longer,” said Annie. “We just hope we can find a matching donor for him. One kidney would be enough, and he can have a normal life and be happy.”

Garen’s family has wanted that for him since he was born. About six months ago, they started their search to find a donor.

“We have a flier that circulates on social media with my wife and my email address on there,” said Sebouh.

“Some people were not a match, some were not qualified, we still haven’t found a matching donor,” added Annie. “We had two non-matching donors that were willing to swap the hospital because they can do that, give our donor to another person and take from another donor to give to Garen but that didn’t work out.”

The owner of Sonia’s Near East Market and Deli, Ara Janigian, is actively involved in the Armenian community, knows the family, and saw the flier.

“We’re a big community here in Rhode Island but nationwide, we’re not big and we need to stick together,” said Janigian. “The Armenian community here is tight, and I knew the community would rally around it. In fact, everyone seems to have stepped up and it’s great.”

Hundreds of people head into his market daily for lunch, so he decided to use that to the Yepremian’s advantage.

“We’re trying to use our platform here to spread awareness so we made fliers and on Monday the 29th, every customer that comes in will get a flier and all the profits from the day will be donated to their GoFundMe account,” said Janigian. “We’re fortunate enough to be able to help, so why not?”

The Yepremians were hesitant to take the help but told NBC 10 News the success of what’s already happening through word of mouth is amazing.

“We weren’t expecting anything, they approached us. We don’t expect anything from anybody, so for them to step forward, it’s like, ‘Wow,’“ said Sebouh. “It’s overwhelming. You always hear stories and you become a part of other people’s stories, but you never think you would be in this position that we are in.

“We’ve had great responses. Everyone is excited for Monday,” said the couple. “We’re very hopeful the right person will come along, it’s not easy to give up a kidney and we know that.”

Sonia’s Near East Market and Deli is open Monday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.

“The only way to look after our future is the children and if you can help you should,” said Janigian.

Qualifications to become a donor for Garen include an adult male or female age 50 or under with a blood type of A or O. If qualified, the donor’s medical expenses will be covered by their health insurance so the donor will incur no cost.

The Yepremians can be reached at Syep20@gmail.com or anny5678@gmail.com.

 

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