When 5-year-old Mckenzie Watson of Donacaster, England, started “swelling up” after Christmas, his parents first attributed his weight gain to eating too many sweets.

But as soon as they saw him in his swim trunks, the Daily Mail reports, his parents knew something was wrong.

Mckenzie’s mom, Antonia Watson, told the Daily Mail that she immediately took him to the hospital:

“He was massive, he looked as though he was nine months pregnant and about to pop. His skin is even really hard as though it were a fully formed bump.”

More than a week later, Mckenzie was diagnosed with a rare kidney disorder known as nephrotic syndrome.

GoFundMe

According to the National Kidney Association, nephrotic syndrome can occur when the blood vessels that are attached to the kidneys stop filtering properly. When these vessels are damaged, protein that is normally found in the bloodstream leaks into nearby tissues, which causes swelling.

Patients with nephrotic syndrome can experience swelling in the legs, under the eyes, around the ankles, and in other locations such as the stomach. It can also cause fatigue and weight gain.

Typically nephrotic syndrome is the result of another disease, infection, or damage to the kidney. Some of the diseases can be treated, but in other cases the syndrome must be managed.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reports that if medications and treatments aren’t effective, surgery may be needed to remove the kidney.

GoFundMe

Mckenzie’s parents wrote on GoFundMe that he’s relapsed several times and has been “in and out of the hospital” for weeks:

[He’s] constantly having needles and transfusions. He can only eat certain foods […] This week he starts chemotherapy

At the moment doctors are still trying to determine the underlying cause of his damage.

For now, his family is raising money through charity events and trying to share their story to increase awareness for rare childhood kidney diseases.

Dearly reached out to Mckenzie’s family to see how he’s doing, but they declined to comment at this time.

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