Martina Barreras

First post: Jan 26, 2018 Latest post: Feb 23, 2018
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Martina's medical challenges began in childhood with a diagnosis of scoliosis.  In 2004, she had a corrective surgery for the spinal curvature where rods were placed in her back.  In 2008 at the age of 18, Martina suffered a stroke on the left side of her brain.  Around this time she was also given a diagnosis of high blood pressure--a condition for which she continues to be treated for presently.  
Then, on Halloween in 2010, Martina became so ill she went to the ER.  It was on that day she was told that her kidneys had failed, and she will need to start dialysis immediately.  If your kidneys fail, until you have a successful kidney transplant, you will require regular dialysis treatments to clean and filter your blood.  Martina was also diagnosed with takayasu arteritis--a condition where the immune system seems to be misdirected and causes inflammation in the walls of the largest arteries in the body--the aorta and its main branches.     
The first step is to have a dialysis access established through a surgical procedure.  Over the past 7 years, Martina has had a central venous catheter (CVC) near her collarbone (which caused her continual pain),  and later another CVC surgically placed near her groin.  Due to continual bleeding the one in the groin was removed.  She then spent 2 years on peritoneal dialysis for which a cannula was surgically inserted in the lining of her abdomen, until that failed.  Currently she receives dialysis through an AV fistula in her left forearm.  This is created by taking a piece of vein from elsewhere in the body and sewing it into a nearby artery, and allowing the sewn in vein to enlarge and become thicker.  
Martina attends dialysis at a clinic in Riverside 3 times per week.  Each treatment is 3 hours and 45 minutes in length, so she is usually at the clinic 4-5 hours each visit.  She has to monitor her diet closely and do her best to limit foods that contain sodium, phosphorus, and potassium.  Further, she has limitations on how much fluid she can drink daily.  Martina gets weekly bloodwork done to ensure that her treatments are effective, and no further dietary adjustments are needed.  Further, she takes a number of medications to address her high blood pressure along with several others required for people with end stage renal disease (the technical name for kidney failure).  For example, phosphorus binders must be taken since the kidneys can no longer remove the extra phosphorus in the blood, and dialysis and dietary restrictions can only remove so much of it.  High phosphorus causes changes to the body that pulls calcium out of the bones, and weakens them.  While dialysis is a life saving treatment, it only performs about 10% of the work that a functioning kidney does.  Long term dialysis is very hard on the body and can lead to serious conditions such as anemia, bone disease, heart disease, and nerve damage.  
Currently Martina is working on getting approved for a kidney transplant.  She began her evaluation process at University of California Irvine (UCI) in November of 2017.  The process involves a numbers of tests from various specialists to make sure she is strong and healthy enough to undergo a transplant surgery.  Once she is approved, she will be placed on the waiting list for an organ donor, or she can receive a kidney from a living donor.  If you have O positive blood type and are interested in being tested as a match, please contact Martina for further information.  
Martina's quality of life will greatly improve with a kidney transplant including:  being free from the time consuming necessity of dialysis treatments, more energy, a less restrictive diet, and a longer life.                      

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