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Kristabelle and her almost-four year old son Zachary have the 2018 and 2019 Kidney Walks at the Detroit Zoo under their belts and are excited for the 2020 Walk, despite it’s being postponed until summer. Back in 2018, we reached out to Kristabelle, a Sterling Heights resident, and she was eager to share Zach’s story. “Thank you for thinking of us,” Kristabelle emailed. “If we can use the opportunity to educate others about chronic kidney disease, its lifelong impacts, and inspire more awareness, we would be happy to help.”

Zachary Murphy Gruchow was born in June 2016 with acute kidney disease and renal vein thrombosis (blockage of one or both kidney veins). Before being medically stable enough to go home, he spent his first two months of life in the neonatal intensive care unit at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.

“Zach, who now has chronic kidney disease (CKD), is followed by the wonderful Nephrology staff at Mott,” Kristabelle continues in a 2018 email to us. “We manage his CKD with use of a liquid renal formula, medications, and lots and lots of extra fluids. He is doing well. He loves being outside, climbing, and music.”

Also in 2018, a Sterling Heights Sentry reporter interviewed Kristabelle for a story about their first Zoo walk with their team, “Zach’s Lifesavers”. She explained that the team walks “because my son’s condition could worsen, and it’s important for people to know about kidney disease. What frightens me is the unknown, though I try not to think about it too much. We are walking for awareness. We are walking to educate others. And we walk for a cure, so no other little babies have to go through what my little boy has.”

In 2020, we reached out to see how the Gruchows were doing. Kristabelle was excited that we had contacted them and wrote:

“Thank you for your interest in Zachary, especially in the midst of the pandemic. As you are aware, kidney disease weakens the immune system. When Zach is sick, he is sick more often, longer and more severely than those without a compromised immune system. For now, he is safely quarantined at home and well. We hope everyone remains home and safe. We continue to advocate and educate the public on kidney disease and the impact on Zachary’s especially vulnerable pediatric population.”

Visit here for more information on the annual Michigan Kidney Walk at the Detroit Zoo.