PERTH AMBOY - A former New Jersey wrestling star is fighting for his life as he waits for a kidney transplant.
Brett Epps has a rare kidney disease known as focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, or FSGS, a disease that causes scarring in the part of the kidney that filters blood.
The Perth Amboy native has been a wrestler for most of his life. While going to Rutgers Prep Epps won the county tournaments for three straight years. As a senior, he won the state title.
While living in North Carolina in October 2014, Epps experienced dizziness, bad headaches and swollen ankles.
"I went to the emergency room and they laid me in the bed. About an hour later, the lady came in and she said, ‘You have kidney failure.’"
Epps did not have any health insurance because he had just started a new job. His kidney disease was already at stage 5. One of his kidneys is nonfunctional and the other is 3 percent functional. He will need a transplant.
Mike Lamb, Epps’s old wrestling coach at Rutgers Prep, tried to donate his kidney, but he was not a match.
A family friend named Mark Adamonis was all set to donate his kidney in July 2015, but the procedure had to be aborted when his heart stopped.
Adamonis says that he was upset he couldn’t go on with the surgery anyway.
“I feel like I let the family and Brett down,” he says. “I just feel really bad because I really wanted to do it. It was important to me.”
Now, New Jersey’s wrestling community is working to find a donor for Epps.
Anyone who would like to see if they are a match should call 704-355-3602 to request a “Living Donor Packet.”