Duncan goes to Washington

6-year-old tells story of kidney disease
Mar. 21, 2014 @ 09:48 AM

Washington DC fell in love with first grader Duncan Sykes. Duncan, with the help of his mom Amber, a nurse at Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center, told his story about his life with kidney disease during the Patient Kidney Summit in Washington DC held earlier this month.

“I made a lot of new friends that are all sick with their kidneys just like me,” said Duncan, 6.

He and his mother were among 80 people selected by the National Kidney Foundation to make their voices heard. Duncan was one of three selected for special recognition. Duncan felt like a celebrity when NKF photographers followed him.

“We felt that it was the opportunity of a lifetime and an honor to be selected by the National Kidney Foundation,” said Amber about the experience. “We told our story about Duncan and his disease but we also made sure to tell them all in our conferences that we are just one case — we are here to represent all of North Carolina’s kidney patients, whether they are in the beginning stages of kidney disease, on dialysis, waiting list for a transplant, or have already had a transplant.”

When he arrived back in his hometown of Archdale, Duncan told his dad Wesley Sykes that he didn’t want to leave Washington.

“Everyone in DC loved me,” he said.

Everyone in Triad loves this little braveheart. At 4 years old he wanted to play Upward Basketball at his church, Poplar Ridge Friends Meeting. Sometimes, just a few minutes of play would take his strength.

Close to Christmas in 2010, doctors said his kidneys were shutting down. By Christmas Day, his condition had deteriorated so much that he was admitted to the hospital.

A kidney biopsy revealed that Duncan had focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a disease in which scar tissue forms in parts of the kidney and impairs kidney function. Eventually Duncan’s kidneys will fail completely and he will have to have a kidney transplant.

While progressive kidney failure can lead to extreme fatigue, Duncan never wavered in his mission to be a face on behalf of the National Kidney Foundation. Nor have his parents, who are saving for the eventual day when he will need a kidney transplant.

The community can help. Donations to Duncan’s Kidney Fund may be made at or mailed to CommunityOne Bank, 10108 S. Main St., Archdale, NC 27263-3134. Put Amber Sykes’ name in the memo line.

Proceeds will be placed in a National Kidney Foundation fund for Duncan to use when he has a kidney transplant.

For now, the impact of Duncan’s mission is not known, but his courage has made an impact on Washington DC.

“Duncan is a brave young man with an important story to tell,” said Sen. Richard Burr. “I commend him for his efforts on behalf of all of those dealing with kidney disease, and I wish him the best of luck as he continues to share his story.”