Kidney transplant delayed for 9-year-old

Harrison would love to get cards

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Harrison Barnett won’t be getting a new kidney this week as scheduled, but a new, later date has been chosen.

Barnett, 9, has been hospitalized at UNC Health Care for almost a month receiving risky and intense desensitization treatments to prepare him for transplant.

Chemotherapy and a blood purification process known as plasmapheresis are being used to remove antibodies from his blood that make it almost impossible for him to match a donor.

Charlie and Rebecca Barnett are thankful that the procedure is working, but his body is just not ready yet.

“It’s just working at a very slow pace,” Rebecca said. “We’re holding on because it’s working.”

Harrison was born with kidney disease and had a transplant at age 2. That transplant failed, and he’s received dialysis since that time, traveling to Chapel Hill three times a week.

He has had more than his share of related medical issues including infections at the catheter site where he receives dialysis. The antibiotic he was given to fight one of those infections left him deaf in both ears a few days before Christmas in 2013. He now has a cochlear implant so he can hear.

Harrison, a third-grader at Wilson Christian Academy, is aware that the transplant date has been moved to Dec. 22, when a family friend is scheduled to give him a kidney.

Rebecca said Harrison is certain that he will come back home to Wilson with a kidney.

“We don’t really care when it happens,” his mother said. “We just really don’t want him to come home without one.”

Harrison is at UNC during the day while his parents work. Rebecca said he’s getting antsy sitting in a room all day long.

The one thing he looks forward to each night is a trip to Starbucks at the hospital. They go late at night when there are fewer people around because of the heightened risk of infection for Harrison during plasmapheresis.

Harrison always orders the same thing, his mother said: a hot chocolate with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon. He also requests a packet of sugar to put in his cup.

As the treatments get more intense, those nightly trips will have to stop, Rebecca said, and she’s sure he will be disappointed.

But she still expects to get Facebook messages from him each day to make sure she remembers to bring him his beloved Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets when she comes to the hospital after work.

This past weekend, Harrison’s parents and twin sisters spent the weekend in Chapel Hill so they could spend some family time together.


Harrison plays electronic games and puts together his favorite Lego sets while he is in his hospital room, his mom said. And he notices when mail is delivered on his hallway. He’s received around two dozen cards from back home, Rebecca said. He especially enjoys the funny ones.

She is very appreciative of all the cards he has received and said it would thrill him to get more mail.

The cards are just one example of the kindnesses she has seen from back home.

That was obvious earlier this week when she was in Wilson shopping.

“Everywhere I went, everyone I saw, they said, ‘We are praying for you guys.’ It helps. It makes you feel good.

“We live in a good community; that’s for sure.”

If you’d like to send a card to Harrison, address it to Harrison Barnett, 101 Manning Drive, Chapel Hill, NC 27514.