Its been four years since my kidney transplant. FOUR YEARS. I honestly can’t believe that its been this long and I can’t believe I almost forgot about my anniversary. For those who are new around here, I’m going to share a little bit about my kidney journey.
Before I was born, my mother was told that she was carrying a child who had Polycystic kidney disease. Polycystic kidney disease is a disorder in which cysts develop within your kidneys. This causes your kidneys to enlarge and lose function over time. She was told that I would most likely not survive and she would lose me. When I was born, a nurse told her that she better hurry and say her goodbyes to me because I was going to die. The pain my mother must’ve felt during this is heartbreaking. Thankfully, my mother did everything she could after I was born to keep me alive. Including her getting up every hour to feed me. Shes the real MVP!
I was born with about 50% of my kidney function and it slowly declined as I grew older. My childhood was filled with weekly doctor visits and blood draws checking to see how my kidneys were doing. I was restricted from many things as a kid due to PKD. I couldn’t eat or do certain things as it could affect my kidney function and damage it more. As I got older, my doctor visits were less frequent as this was something I had to maintain instead of being able to fix. As I got into college, my kidney function declined more rapidly than ever before. The doctors assumed it was stress from college (and if you’ve ever been to college you know how incredibly stressful it is). There isn’t a cure to Polycystic Kidney Disease but there is a temporary fix – a kidney transplant. Transplanted kidneys don’t last forever. The average lifespan of a transplanted kidney is 15 – 20 years. So eventually I’ll need another (or two) transplants.
In my early twenties, my kidney function became so bad that it was low enough to be listed on the transplant recipient list. In order to get on the list, a person has to be around 10% kidney function. This called for more doctors appointments, and weekly blood draws up until my transplant.
My whole life I had my care at UofM Ann Arbor but when it came to my transplant, I wasn’t pleased on how the transplant center was run. I quickly transferred to Beaumont Royal Oak and it was hands down the best decision I’ve ever made. I love how connected everyone is there and it felt like a family. It’s been 4 years and I still LOVE seeing the transplant team.
Since I had been in kidney failure my whole life, we were somewhat more prepared when it came to the transplant. My mom got tested in order to be a donor but ended up not being able to. So my dad got tested and was a match. This part was one of the most stressful parts when it came to having a kidney transplant. In order to be a donor, you have to be perfectly healthy and you have to match blood type and match antibodies. This is in order to lower the risk of rejection for the kidney.
Side note: they don’t take out your old non-functioning kidneys during a transplant unless its absolutely necessary. Technically I have three kidneys. Pretty neat right?
Along with the stress of finding a donor, the recovery was probably one of the most awful thing I’ve experienced. The pain felt like my kidney and guts would fall out of my scar lol. And don’t even get my started about getting the stent removed. Goodbye never again (at least for another 15 years) I also couldn’t leave the house for a month except for weekly doctor visits and I had to wear a mask every time. I was doing quarantine before it came cool.
Along with adjusting to this new life was also medication. Freaking expensive medication lol. In order for my body not to reject the new transplanted kidney, I have to take so many pills every day. These lower my immune system so I don’t lose my kidney. Even though these medications are helping me, they also make it more likely to get sick and have bad side effects. Ya win some, ya lose some.
I’m not going to bore everyone with more details of my story but if you made it this far, you deserve a metal. Even though growing up with kidney failure was hard, I’m very thankful I’m still here today. I’m thankful for the opportunity of being able to graduate with an associates degree, finish up my bachelors degree (I’m still working on that part), start a photography business, and everything else I’ve accomplished since my transplant. I wouldn’t have gotten this far if I wasn’t given the chance at life. Shout out to my parents.
Donating isn’t for everyone but if it’s for you, you could change someone’s life forever 🙂
Learn more at: www.kidney.org/