Sept. 11th is happy day for Niles teen

Published 1:19 am Friday, September 10, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - September 11 is a date that will always remind Americans of one of our country's worst tragedies, the terrorist attacks of three years ago.
But, the date also evokes another memory for Niles High School senior April Mason and her family. A happy memory.
Sept. 11, 2002 was the date that the 18-year-old received a much needed kidney transplant that has given her a new lease on life.
In sixth grade, April was diagnosed with chronic renal failure and it was determined that she would eventually need a new kidney.
After going through years of pain and illness, which included three "long" years of dialysis, April said her life has been great since receiving a new kidney.
Having a new kidney has reduced her fatigue level, given her more independence and allowed April to do more fun things with her life, such as going shopping, riding her bike and playing with her six-year old twin sisters, Desiree and Jasmine.
While waiting for a kidney transplant, April's life was anything but normal. She frequently missed school because of her weakened immune system and had to make trips to the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor every week for check-ups.
Although she still has a weak immune system and must take seven different medications on a daily basis, April's overall health is much improved. She is now able to go to Lakeland Hospital in Niles for the necessary lab work each week and only has to go to the University of Michigan hospital once every four months for a routine check-up.
While a handful of pills and frequent trips to the hospital may seem like a hassle to most people, April looks back on how the transplant has improved her life and could not be happier.
Dr. Susan Thomas, of C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, was a big help for April while she was going through the difficult time prior to her transplant. Thomas is a pediatric nephrologist, or kidney specialist, who also went through chronic renal failure early in her life.
In addition to giving her top notch medical care and encouragement, Thomas also provided some inspiration for April.
She had always wanted to pursue a career in the medical field, but her focus has now shifted to nephrology.
April feels her firsthand experience with kidney problems will allow her to help patients much like Thomas helped her.
After graduation, she plans to study nursing at Southwestern Michigan College and then nephrology at the University of Michigan. She is currently taking an Allied Health course offered through Southwestern Michigan College for college credit at Niles High School.
April is enjoying her senior thus far and plans to do as much as she can to celebrate her last year in the Niles Community Schools system.