CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A Charlotte family in need of not one, but two kidney transplants.
It's a story we've been following for months; local brothers who both needed a life saving operation, and only one parent is able to help.
Evan wasn't going to do it.
“I was thinking I wasn’t gonna climb it,” the 15-year-old said of the 55 foot adventure tower at Victory Junction camp. It’s a camp where sick kids can be just kids because medical personnel are always around.
Evan stood by, watching as fellow campers, one after the next, put on the harness and helmet, and climb to the top of the tower.
Counselors cheered each one on, and finally, Evan decided he would take a turn. There was a chorus of cheers from the ground and above.
“I’m so proud of you, that was awesome,” one exclaimed, high-fiving him.
But someone was missing from the celebration.
We first met Evan six months ago at home with his parents and three brothers.
Theirs is a full house without a lot of a very close family of six, and Evan and Eli, the youngest, were inseparable.
Mom home schooled the brothers together. They shared a room, and often worked for hours building Legos.
Evan and Eli even did dialysis together three days a week.
Evan said, “When he was in in-patient, I was there with him all I could be.”
About a year ago, both Evan and Eli were diagnosed with a hereditary kidney disease, and both were in kidney failure.
Mom Laura struggled to grasp the diagnosis, “Kidney failure, it just sounds so terminal.”
Both boys were in need of transplants.
The family thought they had the perfect plan.
Mom said, “From the beginning, our plan was Bryant would give Evan a kidney, and I would give Eli a kidney and we'd move on from there.”
They were able to save Evan.
“Every parent would do that, I’d give my other kidney; I wouldn’t hesitate. If they'd take it, I'd go on dialysis for Eli,” Bryant Haines said.
Eli is still waiting.
Because in an agonizing twist, doctors say mom can't give her youngest son her kidney.
They've told her to lose 30 pounds and then maybe she can be tested to see if she's a match. It’s a lot of pressure.
The longer Eli stays on dialysis, the trickier things get.
Bryant says, “Another two or three months, he’s fine but...” his voice trails off, “I am worried. It’s not just my tendency to be anxious. I'm worried. I want Eli to get a kidney.”
Eli doesn't always feel so great; he sits curled up under a blanket, despite the heat of the day.
He started the week at summer camp with Evan, who is doing great after getting his dad’s kidney.
“I have a lot more energy than I did,” Evan said.
But Eli couldn't stay more than a day.
“Dialysis wasn’t working so I came home,” he explained.
It’s the first time the brothers have been separated.
“Well, I find it kind of my responsibility to take care of him.”
And he will.
It’s just a steeper climb.
The family just learned Eli’s aunt is a match. He should have a transplant later this month.