In 2002, I was placed on dialysis because of kidney failure due to Lupus. At first, I only needed dialysis for a few weeks because my kidneys started to work again. But then in June 2004, I had another lupus flare-up and was placed back on dialysis again but this time I wasn't so lucky—it was permanent. I remained on dialysis for 2 years.
At first, I didn't know how I would do it. I cried sometimes and I prayed, asking God to give me the strength and patience to face the things that I couldn't change and that one day, this challenge would be nothing but memories. Those two years were quite an experience for me. I was the youngest person in the unit, but to me it didn't seem that way. Even though I was 26 years old, all of the patients became my best friends. If one was late or not there, we would ask or call to see where they were and try to encourage them to come to treatment. Even though the needles were not my favorite part, I looked forward to seeing everyone every other day. This joy with other patients made 4 hours seem like 4 minutes. At the Westport-Port Allen, Louisiana clinic everyone would laugh and joke-- including the nurses and staff, everyone was one big family.
Then on August 22, 2006, I went through a very successful kidney transplant with a perfect match that was donated to me by my younger sister Laura. It was a long awaited transplant that was supposed to have happened the year before. During that last year, I kept thinking positive and didn't give up. Even though I wanted to have this surgery so much, I knew it was only in God’s timing and not mine. First my sister found out that she was pregnant, then Hurricane Katrina visited New Orleans. After that, there were many precautions and tests that we had to take, but I knew it was all in my best interest. The transplant was done at Tulane University Hospital in New Orleans by Drs. Florman and Slakey, two of the most wonderful, smart, and caring doctors I have ever met--along with the rest of their team.
During my stay at Tulane, the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina was marked. The hospital was just beginning to get everything back in order and the staff wasn't as large as before the storm but they all were so concerned about me and my family, and just so compassionate and caring.
Since the transplant my life has been wonderful. I now have a lot of time to do the things I used to do, thanks to (my angel) my sister Laura Baise whom I can never thank enough and to Dr. Florman, Dr. Slakey and Tulane University Hospital. I know that I'm so blessed to have a sister like her because many people are not as fortunate. They don't have family members who are as willing or able to give such a precious gift to a loved one (or even a stranger) because they are scared or don’t know enough about it. She asked me first, even before I even thought about asking her. My sister told me that when I was really sick back in 2004, in the ICU with wires and tubes covering every part of my body, she asked God that if he allowed me to get through this, she would give me a kidney. She felt that if something happened to me, she couldn't live with herself knowing it was something she could do - knowing she didn’t need to take two kidneys with her when she dies. You can live a normal healthy life with one kidney! I learned all about this when the Tulane transplant team went into extensive detail about the facts of kidney donation and transplantation.
This is the reason why I wanted to write this letter, to let everyone know who is reading this, whether you are a family member, friend, or even just someone who is thinking about organ donation to a stranger: donating an organ is truly a life rewarding gift for the recipient and the donor. If someone you know or love needs a kidney transplant, think about going with them to their next doctor’s appointment to get the FACTS from the transplant team. The truth is, I had heard so many tales about kidney transplantation that were wrong.
Every time I pass by my former dialysis unit, I think about my friends who deserve to have a rewarding life just like me. I miss them and when I visit or talk to one of them on the phone I tell them to keep Christ first, think positive, look ahead and DON'T GIVE UP!!!!!!