In need of a kidney

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If you are not familiar with or don’t have a family member with kidney disease, the search for a kidney donor may be quite foreign to you. But in fact, this is not my first rodeo!

Every day I’m alive, I live it with gratefulness. Because of the generosity of an organ donor several years back, I have been able to live a very fulfilled life. I have been fortunate to have been able to see my children grow, work with some amazing companies, and work toward my long-term goals.

As with all major organs, kidneys are very important. They are your body’s built-in blood filters. They serve a multitude of functions from helping to control your blood pressure by releasing the erythropoietin hormone, which also aids in making red blood cells. They also help in keeping your bones healthy by creating vitamin D and keeps your pH levels in check. These alone are quite incredible. One main function of your kidneys is to remove waste from the blood and fluids from the body. That waste gets pushed to your bladder as urine. They process about 200 quarts of blood per day to produce 1 to 2 quarts of urine.

Not long after receiving my architectural degree, a routine yearly checkup showed that my lab results were out of control. After several tests and multiple specialists, a nephrologist knew exactly what was wrong and confirmed it with a kidney biopsy.  The results determined I had IgAN. Which stands for “ Immunoglobulin A Nephropathy”. In short, the microscopic filters in my kidney were not filtering the blood waste properly. Throughout the years the goal was always to preserve kidney function for as long as possible to delay dialysis. Dialysis is an artificial means of cleaning your blood by removing the waste products before returning the blood to your body.

I was fortunate to have had a kidney become available before I needed to start dialysis. This opportunity became available because this individual was listed as a donor on his driver's license. This is why I am a strong advocate for you to consider being an organ donor either through your driver's license or as a living donor. Below are options to choose from to learn more about how you can accomplish this. It will be the most altruistic effort you will ever do in your life.

Unfortunately, kidney transplants are never a long-term solution. Regardless of them being from a living donor or a cadaver donor, their success rate is based on many factors. I had my transplanted kidney for 9 years before it started showing signs of rejection. Once it does, one must do a form of dialysis to clean the blood until a suitable kidney becomes available. This is the stage I’m currently at.

I got put on dialysis in April and have learned how to work around it but it certainly does not allow the freedom that a successful transplant provides. For one to be considered to receive a kidney, they have to be placed on the transplant list.  This list is called the UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) list and they manage all the potential kidney recipients across the US. Getting on this list requires several various conditions to occur.

Getting the transplant is even more so due to the number of people in the US alone in need of a kidney and the lack of donors. So please consider being an organ donor via your driver's license, if you’re considering being a living donor, you can get more information here:   UNOS   or maybe you want to be an ambassador by showing support.