Ethan Houle, who is in need of a kidney transplant, is pictured in this undated photo with his mother Teresa Houle. Ethan will have a fundraiser for his medical expenses on Oct. 4.

Ethan Houle, who is in need of a kidney transplant, is pictured in this undated photo with his mother Teresa Houle. Ethan will have a fundraiser for his medical expenses on Oct. 4.

WELLS — On the weekend of Ethan Houle’s 16th birthday, he began feeling sick. Healthy and active up until this point, he thought it was a mild illness – but a follow-up revealed that a virus had attacked his kidneys and left them barely functioning.

“I never expected to be in this situation,” Houle wrote on his website.

Ethan now has Stage 5 kidney disease, meaning that he needs a kidney transplant soon, and his family is raising money in a second annual fundraiser to help cover the high expenses of his transplant, which will hopefully occur at the end of this year. They will be hosting a barbecue at Wells Harbor in Wells on Oct. 4 from 12:45-5 p.m.

Teresa Houle, Ethan’s mother, says they have faced enormous adversity handling the complex and timeconsuming medical treatments that Ethan faces. The rare form of nephritis that Ethan has initially puzzled doctors.

“They sent it to the Mayo clinic but … (there is) only one other documented case,” Teresa Houle said. “It doesn’t have a specific name.

See Wells Fundraiser A lot of people who have it (have lupus) and he doesn’t have an autoimmune disease. It’s very strange. Very, very strange.”

As a single parent, Teresa Houle had to cut back her hours at work in order to care for Ethan, and it will only get more difficult after the transplant takes place, she says. Teresa will have to drive from Kennebunkport to Maine Medical Center in Portland “every day or every other day” to make sure that Ethan doesn’t get pneumonia or endure any of the myriad complications that could occur after a kidney transplant. Her insurance has created additional difficulties in rejecting Maine Medical Center as the location for the transplant.

For Ethan’s part, even before he faced this debilitating illness, he has always been focused on giving back to others. On the day he came down with the virus that ultimately led to his disease, he was preparing for an annual Multiple Sclerosis fundraiser with his mother. As a Make-A-Wish recipient with a lifelong love of the sea, he asked for a boat – in order to take other kids from other charities out on the ocean for the day.

“It was a really selfless thing for him to ask for,” Teresa Houle said.

After it all, she says it’s important to find the silver lining. She praised the University of New England hockey team for their annual support; the team is pictured grinning with Ethan and Teresa in pictures from last year’s fundraiser. Additionally, she has praised a state trooper from Maine and a judge from New Hampshire, both of whom will speak at the fundraiser about their experience thriving after receiving kidney transplants.

She has bigger goals for the fundraiser itself: She hopes to make it an annual event that will be used to benefit a new family suffering from an illness each year.

“We’ve been through quite a journey … but when you have faith, you find (the) good in each day and give back each day,” Teresa Houle said.


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