By Jeremy Morlock
Did you know that there are more than 106,000 people in the U.S. waiting for a transplant, and that 92,000 (87%) are waiting for a kidney? Did you also know that the Regional Center of Excellence for Transplantation and Kidney Care at ECMC has one of the best outcomes in the nation for successful kidney transplantation? In honor of National Kidney Month, we decided to share stories of some of our local kidney transplant recipients.
Tanesha. Five years ago, Tanesha Adams noticed swelling in her ankles and feet that wouldn’t go away. When a blood test confirmed she had kidney disease, she met with a kidney physician (nephrologist) to determine her options. Tanesha chose to have peritoneal dialysis at home, which worked best for her schedule. She also got on ECMC’s transplant list, and two years later received a kidney from a deceased donor. Tanesha’s recovery was difficult, but the good days outweighed the bad, and she encourages everyone to learn about their health and to advocate for the care they need. “Make sure you’re getting regular checkups and bloodwork. Know your kidney levels and numbers, especially if you’re diabetic or have high blood pressure,” Tanesha says. “Ignorance is not bliss.”
Kathy. Four years ago, Kathy Gabriele was overwhelmed upon learning she had kidney failure and would need dialysis (a procedure that removes waste products and excess fluid from the blood). She says, “It’s hard to absorb everything at once, but support from family and friends helped.” Kathy also found strength and inspiration from art and music. “Waiting is the Hardest Part by Tom Petty was my theme song,” she says. Fortunately, Kathy received a kidney transplant at ECMC 16 months later, due to the generosity of a living donor. She is now conscious about protecting her health and being physically active. Kathy is involved in ECMC’s Kidney Transplant Support Group on Facebook, where she shares encouraging messages with others dealing with frustrations and health complications while waiting for a transplant.
Diana. When Diana Leising learned she had kidney damage, likely due to an untreated infection, she hoped for a living donor, but neither her son nor her husband could donate. Meanwhile, Diana was becoming more ill, and sleeping about 16 hours a day. “I couldn’t even go up a flight of stairs,” she says. Still, her faith helped to sustain her. She says, “Even when I was terribly sick, I put it in God’s hands.” Three years later, Diana decided to accept a kidney from a deceased donor when ECMC called to let her know one was available. “Getting a transplant is a huge commitment because of the many medications, appointments, and tests involved. There’s a lot you have to do, and you have to be consistent, but I know my life is 100% better since I received my kidney,” she says.
Jeremy Morlock is the director of the Kidney Foundation of Western New York. Learn about kidney health, treatment, and transplantation at www.kfwny.org or call 716-529-4390. Learn about ECMC’s kidney transplantation process at www.ecmc.edu.