After almost a year of living with high blood pressure, swollen legs, extreme fatigue and many doctor appointments, my medical mystery came to an end and my life turned upside down. I was diagnosed with a kidney disease named Membranous Glomerulonephritis on August 30, 2002, a day I will never forget. It was a bittersweet time for me as I had just remarried on April 6, 2002. Four months into our marriage, our life was forever changed.
Unlike most people, we had a keen insight as to what may lay ahead. In 1976 I graduated from University of South Louisiana (now known as University of Louisiana Lafayette) with a degree in Nursing.
In 1985 I started my career in organ transplant and recovery. For 18 years I worked as an Organ Recovery Coordinator, providing me with a rare look into the process. I dealt with many families of organ donors and took care of the donor in the ICU and operating room. My wife and I both worked for the organ procurement agency which is how we met. She worked as a Family Advocate offering families the opportunity for donation during the most difficult time in their life. We both thought we knew everything we needed to know to embark on this journey, but as one can imagine, living it is quite different.
After 8 years of various treatments, some as bad as the disease, kidney failure finally came. It was a very dark time for me. The realization that I would need a transplant after working in this field helping others get their transplant was surreal. I was lucky to have the support and love of my wife and family.
The options were simple dialysis, waiting on the transplant list for 3-5 years or Living related transplant. I started dialysis October 2010 three nights per week (M-W-F) for eight hours. I would leave the house at 5:30pm (right as my wife was getting home from work) start dialysis around 6:30 after getting hooked up to my lifeline and get home around 4-5am. Everyone offered to get tested, which I declined, but my wife was insistent on getting tested. She told me, “I have worked in this field for over sixteen years, I know the risks and I need and want my husband back.” She expressed to me how difficult it was to watch me get sick, leave for dialysis three times a week and have little energy. She compared it to almost being a widow.
After much thought and consideration, my wife began testing and was a match as my kidney donor. She had two conditions; one was that she picked the transplant center and the other was that I had to profess my love for Boston Red Sox’s- almost a deal breaker as I am a diehard Yankees fan. She chose Ochsner because of their expertise in robotic -assisted kidney transplant.
I was transplanted on April 18, 2011 at Ochsner Medical Center. With my new kidney, I’m getting not only my life back but a quality of life that I had long forgotten about. It is truly a gift that cannot be repaid. We are avid LSU football fans, enjoy going out to eat and most of all, we enjoy spending time together as a family. I get to walk my daughter down the aisle in October and will have energy to dance with her. We can finally enjoy a quality of life that has been missing most of our married life. I will forever be grateful to my wife for the gift she gave me and to the outstanding transplant team for the care we both received.