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Sue's Transplant Journey
3/17/2017 Latest post:
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your practical support, your messages, and above all, your prayers. Thank you for visiting.
As you probably know, Sue is getting ready to get a new kidney and a new pancreas. When Sue was 7 years old her pancreas quit producing insulin and she became an insulin-dependent diabetic. Her kidneys have been steadily getting less effective since then because that's what diabetes does to kidneys. Because of her diligent and aggressive efforts to be as healthy as possible, it has taken 56 years for her diabetes to cause her kidneys to decline to the point that she will soon need to go on dialysis, unless she gets a new kidney. Of course, if she only got a new kidney, she would still have diabetes, and that disease would begin to cause the new kidney to fail much faster than her original kidneys did. So, if she gets a new pancreas the same time she gets a new kidney, she will not have diabetes any more, which will cause her new kidney to last much longer. This is the main reason why all her doctors are in favor of her having a simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplant.
Since the beginning of 2017, we have been going through all the steps necessary to get to the point of waiting for "The Call".
1. Choose the best transplant center for Sue DONE - University of Minnesota (they are the nearest to us, plus they have been doing kidney transplants for over 50 years, and they were the first in the world to do a successful pancreas transplant)
2. Get referred to the University of Minnesota transplant program by her nephrologist DONE
3. Fill out MANY PAGES of application papers DONE
4. Attend the initial meetings and first round of tests at the University of Minnesota Jan. 9, 2017 DONE - We met with 4 other transplant candidates and their supporters to learn about the transplant process. Sue had many lab tests (25 vials drawn) looking for any diseases, such as cancer, that would rule out her getting transplanted organs. and also seeing which anti-bodies she has which could attack tissue from another person's body. No diseases ruling out transplant have been found. Of the approximately 80 anti-bodies that matter, Sue has only 2 that would rule out getting tissue from some donors. This is very good news, because it will make tissue matching much easier for her than for other potential recipients, who could have a dozen or more such anti-bodies.
5. Have second set of heart tests at U of Minn to be sure her heart and arteries are healthy enough for the 8-10 hour surgery DONE - This actually took 2 trips to Minneapolis, because her blood pressure suddenly shot up just before the first scheduled stress test (Feb. 3), and going through with it would have been dangerous. On Feb. 16, a different chemical stress test was completed. The test showed Sue's heart to be so healthy that it is not necessary for her to have an angiogram! This is very good news, because the chemicals used in the angiogram process could cause Sue's kidneys to totally fail, causing her to go on dialysis.
6. Have a colonoscopy to rule out any disease processes that would keep her from getting her new kidney and pancreas while protecting her failing kidneys DONE - And then some! Accomplished March 9 in Eau Claire. The typical colonoscopy prep can be very hard on the kidneys, and Sue's kidneys cannot take any more damage. The Lord led us to a doctor who worked closely with Sue's kidney doctor's recommendations to protect her kidneys. No problems were found, Sue recovered well from the anesthesia, and 2 independent tests of Sue's kidney function following the procedure indicated that there was no damage to her kidneys!
So now, all the info gathered will be discussed by the review board at the University of Minnesota on Wednesday, March 15, when Sue is expected to be put on the Active List.
DONE - (See the first Journal entry). Now, we
7. WAIT FOR THE CALL (this may take several years; watch for updates!)