It was April 2015. I remember feeling so completely alone when the reality sunk in. I would need a second kidney transplant.
The wait for a deceased donor kidney for my blood type is 8-10 years. All of a sudden I felt sick to my stomach with fear and anxiety over a life back on dialysis, tethered to a machine. It was a life I had been able to avoid for almost 16 years. My mom was a living kidney donor to me in August of 1999 after two years on dialysis all through junior high school.
It was her kidney that gave me the gift of finishing high school, going to college, traveling to Europe, receiving my credential and masters in education and ultimately a rewarding career as a teacher. It was truly a gift of life and now it felt like my life was about to be taken away from me as I prepared for dialysis once again.
It seemed as though the only chance of staying in control was to find a living kidney donor, so I turned to social media and began sharing my story. It was through taking charge that I learned just how many others were going through the same desperate search for a donor. It was through reading other people’s stories that I felt less alone. Stories of people finding living kidney donors within friends, friends of friends, and even strangers gave me hope that I too would find someone.
Within that same month, a stranger reached out to me who was a friend of a friend and saw my story on Facebook. He wanted to be my living kidney donor. I couldn’t believe it was actually happening to me after the countless stories I had read.
He went through the evaluation process but wasn’t a positive cross match and ultimately a good family friend of mine ended up donating a kidney to help me. However, she wasn’t a match for me and her kidney ended up going to someone else in need. All of us were entered into the UCLA Paired Exchange Program were a part of a 10 person kidney chain and after 9 months on dialysis, I got my new gift of life from a woman in Pueblo, Colorado who donated to help her brother who needed another transplant.
When I woke up from surgery on September 28, 2016, I couldn’t have been happier about the way my story was being written.
I’m grateful that I documented my story with photos and Instagram/Facebook so I can remember the struggles and triumphs that made me who I am today.
I now use it as an example for others and encourage them to get loud for their need and to share their story with pride.
It is the power of stories from those in need, living kidney donors, caregivers, and medical professionals that fuels Get Loud For Kidneys and our mission to raise awareness about kidney disease, kidney transplantation and living donation.
Our goal is to humanize kidney disease, which claims lives every day while putting forth a call to action to create change. I hope I can inspire others with kidney failure to live a great story and to shout their story from the roof tops.
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