My mom needs a kidney transplant. In early March of 1996, while teaching Kindergarten, she became ill with a very bad case of strep. By the end of the week, she had pleurisy as well and was in a lot of pain. This was during my senior year of high school and I remember being terrified I was going to lose my mom. At the hospital, they did a biopsy and found that she had IGA Nephropathy, a type of kidney disease. The strep infection had attacked her kidneys, causing her kidney's to shut down. I was so scared. I remember, as the oldest kid, being tasked with calling everyone in the family to let them know. I honestly didn’t know if she would be okay and I barely made it though those phone calls. A week or so later, on March 13th, I received the best birthday present ever when I returned home after school and my internship to find my mom home from the hospital and laying on the couch! What joy! After several months of recovery, she felt better but her kidney doctor wanted her to quit teaching. This broke her heart. Apparently, she was putting herself at risk being around children with viruses and strep, etc. She had to give up working with children in Sunday School as well, for fear of getting sick. She made those and other changes to protect her kidneys, and began regular check-ups with a kidney doctor. For 18 years, these things kept her healthy and she remained stable.
Then, in the past 4 years she’s been in the hospital several times. Most recently, in December of 2017, she started eating less, lost a lot of weight, and started sleeping more and more each day. We were getting really worried about her, as was her kidney doctor, who explained that these things were symptoms of the declining health of her kidneys. In February, she and my dad, Jim, decided to start learning about dialysis. There was a week of overwhelming training and then in the first week of March, she began dialysis at home.
Dialysis is working, and we are so grateful for that! But, it is not guaranteed to work forever. If her dialysis fails one day, she will not be able to live without intervention. Her doctor has recommended that she get a kidney transplant. Transplants are life-saving. There are about 100,000 people on the waiting list for a deceased donor. She is now on that list but she has been encouraged by the doctors and nurses at Baptist Hospital to look for a living donor; that would be someone who is living who feels called to donate a kidney. Kidney donors must have a compatible blood type. My mom's blood type is A Positive. It takes sometimes 5 years for people who need a kidney to receive one from the list.
Some info you may not know:
- You only need one kidney to live a long, healthy life.
- Most donor surgery is done laparoscopically, meaning through tiny incisions. The recuperation period is usually fairly quick, generally two weeks.
- The cost of your evaluation and surgery will be totally covered by my mom’s insurance. The hospital can give you extensive information on this.
- You will have a separate team of healthcare professionals to evaluate you as a living donor. Their job is to help you understand the risks and benefits and look out for YOUR best interests.
- If you decide you want to donate, you can change your mind at ANY time.
Websites you can check out: https://www.kidney.org/transplantation/livingdonors/what-blood-types-match
) or NKF’s (National Kidney Foundation) free, confidential helpline at 855-653-2273 firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:email@example.com) If you want to talk to someone who has donated a kidney, NFK can also help.
Thank you for taking the time to read my mom's story. If donating to my mom or someone else is something you would be willing to consider, would you please leave us a message? We know of course, that a living donation will not be right for everyone, but there are many ways you can still help. Will you please consider sharing my mom’s story with others, to help get the word out about her need? And will you please pray for her? Please pray that God will provide the kidney my mom needs. Thank you!
- Melanie’s daughter, Laurel