Maria O'Brien A Kidney for Maria O

First post: Mar 22, 2021 Latest post: Mar 30, 2021
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Maria was 24 years old and having her tonsils out when she experienced complications and was rushed back to the ED. The blood panel they ran then showed she had a kidney disease. It's a rare inherited disorder called IGA Nephropathy. This was tough news and altered all of her hard fought plans to go to vet school, where she already had early acceptance. Fast forward to 2001 when in spite of all of the attempts to slow her kidney damage down, she was finally in official failure. After two years on dialysis, I (Christi), donated a kidney to Maria on Jan 7, 2003. Maria doesn't do well on dialysis. Within hours of that transplant, her entire complexion brightened up from sallow yellow to tan and bright. The first 6 months were scary with two rejection episodes but these were managed with changing the transplant meds and she kept that kidney for 12 1/2 years. 

I'm not sure anyone who hasn't directly witnessed a loved one with health challenges can fully appreciate the battle. The last couple years of her transplant were fraught with the threat of rejection and some other health issues as well. She failed in summer of 2015 and so started back on dialysis instead of taking our long dreamed of 15 year anniversary lifetime trip to Alaska. Maria has been to 48 states (missing Alaska and Hawaii) and Christi has been to 49, only missing Hawaii. We have always talked about going to Alaska together and then completing our states in Hawaii eventually. Since having to cancel that trip in 2015 it has felt like we would never make it. Maria has added a ton of other diagnoses in the past 6 years - Addison's disease, heart trouble, a heart valve replacement, Grave's disease, losing sight permanently in one eye, internal bleeding for many months before they finally found and repaired a bleed in her jejunem, and probably even more I've blocked out. Any trips meant intensive advance planning and only having "fun" every other day so she could keep doing dialysis. Still Maria persevered, driven largely by her love for our dear son, Gus. We have chipped away at what we could of Maria's life list dreams. We were able to go to Disney World and be at Magic Kingdom on Nov 18, a birth date Maria and Mickey Mouse share. Ok, she wound up being admitted to the hospital that afternoon but she got a half day in before that!

As of today, March 22, 2021, Maria got the phone call that she has been approved for a second transplant! This day, where we are finally starting to see some possibilities of an end to the COVID pandemic, and it's a bright warm sunny day filled with the promises of Spring, our hearts leap with the possibilities and HOPE! With some luck, the support of our amazing village, and lots of prayers just maybe we can get Maria a second transplant so she can make it to Gus's high school graduation (2029) and perhaps even to Alaska and Hawaii! 

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