Jane celebrating the 50th anniversary of transplant services at University of Wisconsin.
I developed Type 1 diabetes at age 34 in 1989. A devastating diagnosis, I did not take very good care of myself and had developed End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). I decided to go on a deceased donor waiting list and was accepted in June 1990. To my surprise, I was called in October 1990 to receive a 'perfect match' kidney from California and was transplanted the following day at Froedtert Hospital, Milwaukee, WI.
That kidney unfortunately failed in 1995 and I went back on dialysis in November of that year. I had to think long & hard about going back on the list. There were a number of things I needed to consider: the number of people that were already waiting was one of my major concerns since I had already gotten my second chance.
But I finally decided to try again and in January 2012 was accepted back on the list at Froedtert. A couple of months later I was also listed at University of Wisconson Health Center in Madison, WI. In November 2014 I received a "call in the middle of the night" (literally) that a kidney was available for me. Two friends drove me the 75 miles to the hospital in the early hours of November 2, 2014 and I was transplanted later that day. They tell me that I announced to everyone I saw as they returned me to my room that "I have a new kidney!" Although I have had had some "bumps in the road" over the past two years my kidney is working fine.
Daily I am thankful for the gift of life I have been given and will be eternally grateful to both my donors' families for making the decision to allow donation of their loved ones' organs.
During my time as a kidney patient I have become much more aware of my own health and have learned the importance of being a self-advocate. I ask a lot of questions (which some times upsets practitioners-physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Physicians Assistant, nurses, pharmacists, etc) because I want to make good decisions about my health, with my kidney always being my number 1 priority. I have also become an advocate for kidney patients and for organ/tissue donation as well as the JDRF as these are all very important for me.
Things I would like for people to know is that kidney disease is a difficult thing to live with, especially being on dialysis. I recently visited my former unit with a friend and explained the machine and process to her. She was flabbergasted by the complexity of it. Also, most people don't understand that transplant is "a treatment, not a cure" and transplants can fail.
As far as advocacy, I belong to the National Kidney Foundation, Kidney Advocacy Committee. I love being able to talk to people about my story and help them understand better the ramifications of having kidney disease. As I said above I also volunteer for the JDRF since diabetes is what got me into this situation and hope people will learn from my story and not have to suffer with kidney disease.
Location: Fond du Lac, WI