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Erika’s Story

The amount of support Erika has recieved has been incredible and for that we thank you. We will continue to update this website as new information becomes available and ask that you continue to keep Erika in your thoughts and prayers.

Erika’s journey started seven years ago when she was diagnosed with Lupus. What once started as a manageable condition has since turned into a debilitating disease. She has tried a number of drugs and treatments, and underwent a kidney biopsy several years ago that indicated some kidney involvement, but nothing of major concern. Throughout her bout with Lupus flare-ups have been a common occurrence, but in the past couple of years manifestations of the disease have grown in length and severity.

This past February Erika underwent chemotherapy in hopes the treatment would suppress or even eliminate the disease. Unfortunately, this, like many of the other things she tried, proved ineffective. As a matter of fact, things worsened at a rather alarming rate. Most of this past summer consisted of trying to limp through work days then returning home to fall into bed and sleep.

On August 24th Erika was checked into the ER at Methodist/> Hospital/>/> in St. Louis Park/>/> where she was diagnosed with acute kidney failure. The functions of Erika’s kidneys had been on a steady decline leading up to this, which was evident through the massive amount of swelling she had all over her body. The swelling was attributed to the inability of her kidneys to filter and, as a result, she was retaining fluid that her kidneys were supposed to be metabolizing. As we all know, Erika has always been a rather petite woman, but when she was checked into the ER, she weighed upwards of 160 lbs. In addition to the retention of fluids, her electrolytes and vitals were dangerously unstable.

After administering a number of medications to stabilize her condition, Erika was faced with the reality that she would have to begin a regimen of dialysis to compensate for her failing kidneys. This news, combined with her condition and an elevating level of anxiety led to a state of shock that ultimately manifested itself in a series of seizures. After enduring the frightening experience of her seizures, some comfort was gained from her physicians’ diagnosis that the seizures were situational and an isolated event.

Twelve days and fifty pounds later, Erika’s condition had stabilized and she was released from the hospital. She returned to Eveleth with Rad and Tina where she was able to rest and undergo dialysis at a local dialysis center. As part of her discharge orders, she was put on a drug called Dilantin to suppress the risk of further seizures. While her kidney function was maintained with the help of the dialysis, Erika began showing symptoms indicative of a reaction to her seizure medicine. They started as a simple rash and common cold-like symptoms, but had grown in severity and were enough for her nephrologists to send her directly to the ICU in Duluth/>/>. There she was diagnosed with the most severe form of Steven Johnston’s Syndrome. It affected her skin, eyes, mouth, esophagus and gastrointestinal system in the form of a bloody rash. This limited her ability to eat, swallow, and drink and left her in excruciating pain. To top it off, for several days her temperature hovered near 105 degrees. This led her physicians to take her off of the Dilantin, which then precipitated more seizures. Once again, the seizures were determined to be situational and not related to Lupus. She was also put on an alternative seizure medicine called Keppra. This time her hospital stay was 16 days.

Erika’s return to Eveleth was short lived because after three days out of the hospital she suffered three seizures and was forced to return to the Duluth ICU. This time the seizures were said to be attributed to too low of a dose of Keppra. Unfortunately, a follow-up MRI indicated changes in her brain mass that require more thorough testing procedures. A brain biopsy is scheduled for this Monday (November 12th) where it is hoped that the cause of the seizures will be elucidated.

Throughout all of this Erika has remained incredibly strong and resilient. She has taught us so much in the way of the true meaning of courage and fortitude; she has shown us that although things might not be fair, our ability to make the best of things and not give in to adverse circumstances determines how strong of an individual you truly are. While she has gone through numerous tests to monitor the health of her body and its functions, none of the tests could ever reveal just how healthy and strong her heart and soul are.

Erika’s very good friends and Gustavus roommates are planning a benefit in her honor and details will be available as the plans are made. Please consider participating! We also invite you to use this site to communicate with Erika, as we will continue to use it to update you. She is anxious to reconnect with the world and to hear from you. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

Latest Journal Update



Halleluiah!! I am now three and a half weeks post-transplant and feeling on Cloud 9. Although there have been a few bumps in the road, the work that my dad’s kidney has done and will continue to do is a miracle to me. I went from living off a machine three days a week and having to deal with the side effects of dialysis to taking regular walks and being excited to get out of bed. It’s baffling to me the differences I have noticed in my body with a healthy kidney. My skin has cleared up (I used to consistently live with rashes), my mental clarity has returned (from not being tired and ill all the time), the physical stamina I have isn’t even comparable to even my last three years. The doctors and nurses tell me that if I think I feel good now, wait until three months post-transplant!

I am truly blessed to have such a loving family. My parents and brother have been there for me through it all providing the love and support to allow me to heal. My gratitude stretches far beyond my direct family as I have received so much love from so many people in so many ways. Words cannot express how thankful I am that God has placed so many good souls on this earth. You will never be forgotten.

As I continue my healing journey I encourage everyone, everyday to give gratitude to the many blessings you have in life as there are those out there who may not be able to experience what you have. Compassion is key, as I have experienced firsthand. It is now time for me to go out and experience life to its fullest!