Senior Jenny Chai tries a new treatment for kidney disease


Stephanie Chai

During her treatment for FSG, senior Jenny Chai is visited by friends seniors Annie Doig and Claire Pellegrino at Cardinal Glennon Hospital.

In the fourth grade, a biopsy procedure changed the life of senior Jenny Chai forever. It found that Chai has Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, or FSG, a rare form of kidney disease.

FSG attacks segments of the kidneys’ filtering system, causing serious scarring in children and adolescents, and kidney failure in adults. Despite these obstacles, new treatments are being discovered daily. Rituximab, an IV infusion procedure that takes place over the course of weeks or months, is a treatment for many diseases, including leukemia and arthritis. As of today, more are being studied to evaluate whether or not it works for other diseases.

“I would have one treatment one day per week,” Chai said. “I kept getting really bad migraines at first,” Chai said, “but they wore off after the first couple treatments.”

Chai started the treatments because her doctors had recommended it, and they told her that it was more effective than the pills that she already took.

“[After the treatments] she was definitely weaker than normal, but she was still cracking jokes and acting herself,” senior Annie Doig, a good friend of Chai said. “We really just wanted to make her happy since she had been there alone for the whole day.”

Chai’s treatments were over a 12-hour period, requiring her to stay at the hospital all day on bedrest.

“The medicine entered her body through IV very slowly, so every time she received a treatment she’d have to sit in the hospital basically all day,” senior Claire Pellegrino said. “Visiting her was kind of strange because it’s weird to see someone that you see so often lying in a hospital bed.”

Since she is currently in stage two of the disease, Chai said that she is not really scared of the future.

“It is scary because with kidney disease, you don’t know what’s going to happen next,” Chai said. “But with the new treatments and all of the support I have, I hardly ever remember I have the disease because my life is so normal. There are people with diseases way worse than mine out there so I’m thankful.”