Canaries starlet launches search for another kidney donor as he fights genetic condition
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
The search for another kidney donor has begun for Norwich City academy prospect Shae Hutchinson, as the talented striker continues to battle a genetic condition in the hope of making it as a professional footballer.
The 19-year-old caught the attention of Canaries fans in September when he scored in the EFL Trophy for City's under-21s, taking the lead against the first team of League One side Oxford United, only for the hosts to eventually claim a 2-1 lead.
That goal, calmly finishing after being sent through one-on-one with the goalkeeper, came less than a year after having a kidney transplant in 2018 - which unfortunately hasn't proved totally successful.
"My dad (Gerald) was my match, which was a good thing," the Canaries youngster explained. "I had other people in my family, some strangers, but my dad was a match so it was all perfect.
"When your kidney is working at 15 percent that's when you really need a transplant and my kidney right now, my new one, is at 17, so it still doesn't really work.
"It's basically as bad as it was before my transplant so I'm going to have to get another one as soon as possible."
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Hutchinson, from London originally, played for Leyton Orient as a youngster before joining Premier League giants Arsenal at under-13 level, and subsequently Norwich after leaving the Gunners as an U16.
He is dealing with the effects of Alport syndrome, described by the NHS as a genetic condition characterized by kidney disease, hearing loss, and eye abnormalities, causing progressive loss of kidney function.
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Speaking to City's official YouTube channel, Hutchinson explained: "I was diagnosed at eight years old, because my mum (Sarah) had it. My nan is a carrier and my mum had bad kidneys, it's called Alport Syndrome.
"I was diagnosed at eight, I was okay, went to Great Ormond Street and was seen there. Once I got older, I think about 16 I started to go to Royal Free Hospital.
"About the age of 16, that's when it started to get real bad, when I started playing sports - like my mum hasn't even had a transplant yet. Her kidney's quite bad not but it wasn't before, I guess because she didn't really do sport.
"But me, because I'm working hard and using my body, I need it now.
"It's affecting my hearing, my eyesight, it makes me very tired, I can't work as hard as other people, I can't run as long as other people on the pitch."
The forward has managed nine appearances for the U23s so far this season, five of them as a substitute, but has still scored four goals.
Three of those came in January, earning him a nomination for the Premier League Two Player of the Month award, and he is thankful for the Canaries' continued support.
"I think it took me about six months, maybe five, to get back into football properly and start training with the boys," he continued.
"I received a lot of support from people like Clive (Cook, academy player care manager), Wrighty (U23s boss David Wright), even just like a text to ask how I am.
"Clive even came down to my house to check on me, the boys have shown me a lot of support, like text messages checking I'm alright.
"They help me out when I'm struggling sometimes, boost me up, encourage me and they understand what I've come through so they won't be harsh on me. They put themselves in my shoes and think about if they were me.
"Before I was quite scared to tell them, because I like playing football, I don't want it to affect anything, even though health comes first.
"But I was scared they wouldn't try and play me because of this reason, or give me fewer minutes because they're scared, but now I'm starting to open up and they understand, I'll open up and they'll listen."
Many of City's academy players and staff launched social media appeals last night, as the search for a donor was launched, with a host of kind messages in support of Hutchinson.
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Reflecting on his goal at Oxford in September, he added: "It was a great feeling, I had family and friends there, my first competitive match and like my third match (for the U23s) as well, 90 minutes it was just a great feeling, no feeling is better than scoring really."
- For more information about Alport Syndrome and how to donate, go to www.aclt.org