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Jennifer’s Story

The realization of everything that was going on hit me hard. How are we going to do this?
For Jennifer, caregiving has required patience and a lot of resilience. When she first met her husband  he had just received a kidney transplant from his older brother. The surgery was a success. He was doing well. There was no reason to believe their lives would be disrupted by serious illness. The couple got married and had a baby girl. When their daughter was just a toddler, his transplanted kidney began to fail. 

“It was heartbreaking because not only was it a kidney his brother gave him but watching him suffer,” she recalls. “There was also the unknown of when he could get another kidney. It was extremely difficult.” 

At that point, Jennifer was essentially a single parent to her young daughter. Her income was paying the bills and supporting the family. She was also caring for a husband whose health was deteriorating. As his condition became more fragile, he spent more time in hospital. She remembers one night in particular when the burden of her new responsibilities was especially tough to shoulder. 

“I had worked all day and gone to see him in hospital. I had just put my daughter to bed and I was exhausted. I sat down on the couch to take a few minutes for myself, and kind of broke down,” she says. “The realization of everything that was going on hit me hard. How are we going to do this?” 

At that moment, Jennifer says a light switched on. She found a new strength to do what was necessary to take care of her husband and child. Her family has provided vital support, along with her employer. She also joined the Kidney Paired Donation Program to raise her husband’s chances of finding a donor kidney. While they have not received a match yet, he has switched to home hemodialysis and is now happier and in better health.