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Gonzales community supports teenager fighting rare kidney disease

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GONZALES - Gonzales residents showed up on Saturday for a jambalaya sale and raffle to support a teenager with an aggressive autoimmune disorder.

Lauren Swanson, a 17-year-old at Ascension Christian High, is a star softball player living with a life-threatening disease. In 2020, she spent nearly a month in Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital after what her family thought was an allergic reaction that turned out to be something much worse.

"There were moments where I didn't know if she was going to make it through the next week because it was pretty scary," Lauren's mother Toni Swanson said.

Before Lauren arrived at the hospital, her eyes and legs swelled. At home they treated it like any other allergy. After her stay in the hospital, doctors determined that Lauren needed more intensive care.

"At the beginning it was Lupus, but now it's changed to Dense Deposit Disease, which is a really rare kidney disease," Lauren said.

"They tell me it's called an ultra-rare, pretty much a one-in-a-million kid, and she got it," Toni Swanson said. "So we've been battling the battle ever since."

Lauren's rare disease forces the family to take frequent trips to the University of Iowa Health Center for treatments, until she's ready for a kidney transplant.

Toni says Lauren will likely live with the disease for the rest of her life.

"The biggest fear right now, she had to step back out of the softball world this summer because of heat. Dehydration is a big risk for her, and she is right now teetering on the brink of dialysis," Toni said.

"It's kind of overwhelming," Lauren said. "I know I've got people behind me that love me and will help me raise money for this."

As Lauren continues to fight for life, her family remains inspired by the girl who will never give up.

"She has been doing the work like a champ. She's amazing," Toni said.

For more information or to donate, click here. 

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