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Brenda's Story

How I stayed positive waiting for a transplant during the COVID-19 pandemic

I was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2003. About six years later, doctors thought I should go on dialysis, but I wasn’t ready to take that step. I still felt really great. In 2014, I got sick, my ankles swelled up and I ended up in the hospital emergency room. At that point, my kidney function was very low and I had to start dialysis. I started hemodialysis treatments in the hospital.  At one point I was offered peritoneal dialysis, but my living space at the time was not suitable. 

It was around then, that I connected with the Kidney Foundation’s Peer Support program. I had a really good experience. The Program Coordinator was very positive, uplifting and encouraging. The value of Peer Support for me, is that there is less fear of the unknown. The support I received helped provide a better understanding of what is going to happen on dialysis and with a transplant. They gave me books to read on kidney disease, and I learned a lot. 

I had three friends offer to donate a kidney, but it didn’t work out. They were not considered to be healthy enough for the transplant surgery. In the years after there were other kidneys that became available, but they were not a good match for me. Finally, this past May in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic I had a kidney transplant. I was so excited! While I had some complications, I am starting to feel better. I determined in my heart that I would not get COVID-19! I rely heavily on my Christian faith, and that has helped me get through some difficult times.

I plan to help others by volunteering as a Kidney Connect volunteer and share my experiences. Right now, I am still recovering from the transplant and often feel tired in the evenings. I am hoping that maybe in a month or two I will feel more like myself. I can go out on walks now, but am not as strong as I would like to be. 

Having a kidney transplant was a good experience overall, and the new kidney has changed my life.