by Misty Marx
When I was 19 years old, and just a year out of high school, I was diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy. This is a kidney disease that damages the nephrons or “filters” in the kidneys. When I was diagnosed I was told that the disease was fairly slow in its progression and that this may never lead to dialysis as long as we kept an eye on it. I did okay for a couple of years until I hit 21. Two days after my 21st birthday I was doing hemodialysis (I eventually switched to home dialysis called peritoneal dialysis). My mom immediately volunteered to donate a kidney to me. On December 14, 1999 we underwent the surgeries. Mom went to the O.R. first then I was taken. Everything went fine until I was in recovery and the doctors noticed that I wasn’t producing urine like they had expected. I went back into the O.R. where I was reopened and the kidney was adjusted. The doctors suspected that the kidney was “pinching” something and so they repositioned it. I went back into recovery and up to the intensive care unit for observation overnight. Things didn’t go so well there either. The next morning I had an x-ray and ultrasound. The kidney had died overnight and so it needed to come out. I had my third surgery in less than 24 hours to remove it.
This was devastating for mom and me but truly for all of my family and friends. We were expecting to be home in a week and I would be free of dialysis to live a normal life. Despite the disappointment, I continued to think that everything happens for a reason and better things were yet to come. I held onto my faith and knew that God had a plan. I regained my dialysis schedule and did so until October 4, 2002 with the idea that I never wanted a living donor transplant again.
In the early morning on October 4, 2002 I was called for a transplant from a deceased donor. Someone had passed and donated their organs and I was a potential match for their kidney. I grabbed my things, met my mom and we were in Columbus in record time. After some blood work I was admitted for a transplant. This was going to be my answer! No more dialysis and a normal life. The transplant went great and I was home within a week. With the exception of taking around 50 pills a day and blood work twice a week, I was living a normal life. I did the things I wanted to do and didn’t have to worry about doing dialysis.
I went through rejection with the kidney in April 2006 but after 11 days in the hospital on I.V. therapy anti-rejection medication, the rejection was stopped and I was home. I enjoyed this kidney until May 1, 2007 when I was admitted to the hospital in total renal failure to start immediate emergency dialysis. The kidney had failed without any chance to save it. The biopsy suggested that it was an older kidney, possibly 70 years old, when transplanted and the life cycle of the kidney had ended. I was very thankful to the donor and the donor’s family for the wonderful 4 ½ years in which I enjoyed life with my donor’s kidney. Disappointment, however, had hit again and I knew I would be back on dialysis.
The average wait on the transplant list for my blood type can be up to 10 years! There was no one in my family left to be a possible donor which was fine with me due to my previous experience with mom’s kidney. So all I could do was wait…but not as long as I thought.
I have so many great friends and I have one especially wonderful friend who introduced me to my future husband! I was single and she thought that it might be fun if I would meet her husband’s friend, Jeff, to go on a double date with. We met in October 2007 and became immediate friends and then fell in love. Since the first time my mom met him she said that he was my “angel”, the one God had sent to me. That never really made sense to me until later. He knew of my dialysis and saw my dialysis machine and he wanted to know if he could be tested to see if he was a compatible match. I thought that this was such a nice gesture but never really thought that it would go much further than that. Jeff was very persistent in his offer to be tested and just about every week we would talk about it.
Jeff and I were married July 11, 2008 . After a week back from our honeymoon, Jeff was tested for compatibility. I really didn’t think that he would be a match and was really just entertaining his desire until a month later we found out he was compatible! After lots of prayers and thinking I knew that this was God’s plan, November 21, 2008, a little over a year after we met, he saved my life by giving me the gift of life!
Jeff never once faltered from his decision as he said God told him it was the right thing to do. He donated an organ so selflessly to help someone in need. He has the qualities of a good person, who believes in an Almighty God, which is represented in all of his life choices.
Out of all the people in the world God has sent him to me—-my Angel!
Want to learn more? You can visit www.organdonor.gov or view these newsletters: Organ and Tissue Donation FAQs and Blood Donation.
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