I was never really open about expressing my thoughts and takeaways of my illness until recently, and I think it is important to share how I feel about it.
I was born with really small kidneys which medically is referred to as renal dysplasia. Unfortunately, I did not find this out until I was 14 years old. It was at this time that I learned that I was in stage three, kidney disease, with 40 percent kidney function.
When I was 22, I found out in my second to last semester as an undergrad that I needed a kidney transplant. I was in stage four of CKD (chronic kidney disease) with 21 percent kidney function and I was referred to the Penn Transplant Institute.
From that point on, my kidney function has continued to drop. I am 23 now, and in stage 5 CKD with 11 percent kidney function which is kidney failure. Over these past nine years, CKD has been a very big part of me. For part of my life, I’ve lived without knowing I had this debilitating condition.
I’ve often wondered to myself if I found out earlier, would I still have gone into kidney failure? I don’t know. But what I do know is that kidney failure has taught me so much, and in some part has shaped me into who I am today. I have such an appreciation for life, because well, I’ve lost something really important–my kidneys.
I’ve had to battle fatigue, depression, anger, and sickness, and now I’m still battling it, but always with a smile on my face. I have been on the transplant list for a little over a year and a half. Recently my loving brother, Connor has stepped up to the plate and got tested so he could give his kidney to me.
Ironically, on National Donor Day, Connor told me that he was a 75 percent match and couldn’t wait to help me. I don’t know if I ever had good kidney function, nor do I remember what it is like. I can’t express how happy I am that I am going to get to experience it. I’m fighting and continuing to prevail despite my disease.
Currently, I am finishing up my first semester of my master’s degree and hoping to get my kidney transplant this summer. This disease has taught me so much: Most importantly it has taught me to always have faith in others and to always have faith in myself. It’s been hard achieving my dreams while battling this sickness. I found out that I am much more than this disease, and it can’t stop me from doing what I love.
I am not my condition and neither are you. I know there is a tough road ahead of me, but I’ve made it this far and I intend on continuing my journey. I’ve accomplished so much being confined to the shackles of this disease, but I know once those shackles are removed, I will definitely be a force to be reckoned with. If it wasn’t for my brother, I don’t know what my future would hold. I hope that out of my story, you take with you the concept that no matter what obstacles are in front of you, you have the power to break through them. Just keep pushing.
Submitted May 3, 2019
This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.
I am so happy that you will be receiving your transplant in the near future. Stay strong!