My transplant occurred on 7/17/17 at Sharp Memorial Hospital in
San Diego with the help of a living donor who was a stranger.
I was diagnosed around 2011 with FSGS. The cause was unknown. I applied for additional life insurance and was declined. After further testing with my doctor, I learned I had chronic kidney disease.
I am married, raising 2 young children and worked full time in sales. Kidney failure affected every part of my life. It hits you mentally and physically. You want to stay positive but the daily grind of fatigue, nausea, vomiting, cramps and metal taste can play tricks on your mind. Once I began dialysis, some of these symptoms subsided. As I learned how to deal with my new lifestyle, the bigger question was how can I find a living donor now. The wait list for a cadaver here in Southern California can be up to 8+ years depending on the county you live in.
I created two new focuses moving forward:
1. Find the positive in each day I woke up.
2. Find a living donor in 2017.
Even though I was diagnosed with FSGS 7 years ago, the process from 2011 to 2017 was a slow and gradual decline in health. At times, I literally felt this was life's process of aging. The next day after my transplant surgery as I woke up, I instantly felt so much more life. My creatinine dropped from 11.5 to 7.3 in less than 24 hours. Life's miracle at work. My living donor helped extend my life by giving me new opportunities to watch my family grow and allow me to continue to find ways to help impact the lives of others.
I wish more people understood that kidney transplant is safe, well documented and an urgent need. My donor is living a healthy lifestyle and I am forever grateful for her selfless act. There are many people in this world that may not have a voice for themselves. They might not feel worthy of a transplant. They might act strong but internally, they are falling apart due to this illness. If you know of a family member or friend in need of a kidney, you need to be strong and speak up for them.
I started dialysis in October of 2016. My goal was to find a living donor in 2017. I was determined not to wait 8 years for a transplant and stay on dialysis that entire time. I've read countless stories about other patients on dialysis for 2, 5, 7+ years with no transplant in site. In 2016, I began to use marketing and sales strategies that i learned from past books and mentors. I used 3rd party systems to get my message out to the public. Facebook was my main vehicle for sending out my story. I feel I am so fortunate that my story connected with the right individual at the right time. I was on dialysis less than 1 year and had my miracle operation on 7/17/17.
I am living proof my friends, if you can create a positive out look on life, be creative, you too can find a donor. Miracles can happen when you act with purpose.
(left) Tommy created these kidney warrior wrist bands to share and remember his journey with the hundreds of thousands fighting chronic kidney disease.
(right) Tommy and his kidney donor 2 days post surgery.
** The photo of Tommy and his family at the top of this page is the way he found a donor through sharing his story on Facebook.
Location: Orange County, CA