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Marie-Eve's Story

“Kidney disease is not who you are”: How Marie-Eve has learned how to live well on dialysis

My name is Marie-Eve, and I have decided not to let kidney disease control my life. I have found ways to start a family, and do activities that people with this condition may not realize are still possible.

I have end-stage kidney disease, and have been on dialysis for five years. Over that time, I have gone on vacation to Florida, spent a week in Niagara Falls and visited my parent’s cottage in Quebec. Just recently, I became the proud mother of a healthy baby boy while on dialysis. Liam was born last November, with the help of a specialized team of kidney doctors.

My journey with kidney disease started with the way I was born. I came into this world in 1981 with just one kidney, and as a child was followed by a nephrologist. When I was 20 years old, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. I was given medication, but stopped taking it after a few months. I was young and was moving from city to city for my studies. I didn’t understand what high blood pressure could do to my health.

One day in October 2012, I woke up feeling really sick. I was seeing black dots and had a terrible headache. I went to work, but didn’t feel any better. When I checked my blood pressure at a nearby pharmacy it was 250/200.  I was admitted to hospital that day.  

Doctors diagnosed me with end-stage kidney disease; my kidney was working at only 15 per cent. It was the news that would change my life forever. After my blood pressure was back under control, I was released from hospital. Shortly after, I met a team of kidney doctors who to this day help me manage my condition.

My first kidney transplant, from a friend, was in the spring of 2014. It did not go as expected. The kidney moved inside of me, and after five days it failed completely. Eight months later I had another transplant, also from a friend. The new kidney was working well at first, but soon my body began to reject it. The doctors tried everything, but I had a massive rejection in July 2016. 

It was a difficult time. I was full of emotions and very sick. It took about two to three months for me to get back on my feet. When I was well enough, I chose a hybrid treatment of peritoneal and hemodialysis. The treatment was effective, and soon I returned to work full-time. 

I love the water, but on dialysis I couldn’t go swimming in a pool or the ocean. My fiancé is very supportive, and has helped me find ways to enjoy these activities again. We were able to protect both my catheters with a waterproof dressing. In 2019, we travelled to Florida and spent four weeks there. I set up dialysis sessions at a local hospital, and was able to go scuba diving and even swim with dolphins! I was on the way to getting my life back.

My advice to people with kidney disease is to get in touch with others going through the same experience, so you don’t feel so alone. Also, reach out to organizations like the Kidney Foundation that can provide information and resources. Remember that kidney disease is not who you are. Whatever your age, there are ways to cope with the disease and take back control. Kidney disease is just a part of your life, and you can work around it.