Below is our latest entry in the Illinois Donor Diaries. Thanks for the submission Jennifer!
In 2003, just after my 23rd birthday, I was diagnosed with glomerulonephritis, an auto-immune kidney disease. My own anti-bodies were attacking my kidneys. Within 2 years, my kidneys were functioning at less that 10%. At this point I began receiving dialysis treatments. Simply put, dialysis is medicine that helps clean out your body when your kidneys can’t do it for you. I had to be at the dialysis center 3 days a week, 4 hours a day. This process made me extremely tired for the first 6 months, and many times after that as well.
In July 2007, I received a call from the transplant coordinators telling me that a donor match had been found for me!
I was very happy but also nervous. When I went to the hospital to meet Gigi, I learned that her sister Candice also needed a transplant. Gigi was not a match for her sister, so she was donating to anyone who needed it. The hospital had found a donor for Candice too – a Good Samaritan donor, and the surgeries were set to happen all at the same time, on the same day. This is called a “paired donation.” I was very lucky to be a part of this special procedure. Gigi recovered in the hospital for three days and I was in the hospital for five days.
I am so grateful to Gigi for giving me this chance to have a full life! Now 28 years old, I am able to travel and work at a job that I love without having to spend hours of my life in a dialysis chair. Gigi is also doing great. She reports that other than the scar; she feels the same as she did before the surgery took place. She is my hero for being so selfless.