I am seventeen years old and a senior at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel. I recently had a kidney transplant in August 2010 at Tampa General Hospital. Having the kidney transplant is truly a miracle and a gift of life. I feel as if God has given me a new chance and lease on life.
Beginning at the age of eight, I was treated for high blood pressure and was prescribed blood pressure medicine to take daily. In the summer of 2009, I attended a law course at the American University. While I was there, I began feeling very weak and tired. Upon returning to Tampa I noticed I was retaining a lot of fluid, and I was gaining a significant amount of weight. My parents took me to my primary care doctor, and he explained that I was just experiencing stress from being away for 10 days. However, my symptoms worsened and I began getting chest pains and weakness in my muscles. I went in for blood work in early October 2009 and my labs were sent to a Nephrologist. I remember the day vividly; my Nephrologist called during the afternoon and told my father to rush me to the Pediatric ICU immediately. Evidently my blood work was showing that my electrolyte levels were severely imbalanced, and I was pretty much a dead person walking.
After being in the hospital for a few days, I was diagnosed with renal failure. It was a complete shock to me and my family. I had to go on dialysis every night for nine hours, which drastically changed my life. It was certainly a struggle for me because I am a teenager in high school, and I love to have fun with my family and friends. I was physically tired due to the dialysis and missed several days of school. I was not able to hang out with friends like I had before; this meant no more sleepovers with my girlfriends. It also made traveling difficult for my family. There were many days I felt like giving up, but I knew God had a purpose for me, and that purpose was to live!
I was placed on the transplant list in June 2010. Doctors told me that because of my age it would take longer for me to receive a kidney than a younger patient. This never weakened my faith in God. My family, friends, and I continued to believe a miracle would take place in my life. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) is a scripture that kept me going strong and believing in God’s Word. It says: “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
On August 25, 2010, my family and I got a call in the early hours of the morning from my Nephrologist. She told us that they had a kidney for me. I felt like I was in a dream – we all did. It is uncommon for a person my age to only have to wait on the transplant list for 2 months. People on the transplant list can wait for as long as 5 years. While I was waiting, I remember praying to God constantly asking Him to help provide me with a blessing and complete healing. My desire was to receive a kidney before attending college. I wasn’t sure how being on dialysis would work while going to college. God always has a plan, and His plan is truly perfect. I received the kidney transplant and now I am getting ready to attend college in Fall 2011. My patience and faith has truly helped me through this process.
From that special day in August, the transplant has been nothing but a blessing. I wake up thanking God every day for my donor, doctors, nurses, family, friends, and for my life. The support and prayers of my family, friends, and pastors has helped me significantly throughout this whole journey. It feels so great not being hooked up to a machine at night anymore; I feel free! It’s as if the heavy load of bricks is finally lifted off of my shoulders as well as my family’s. I’m able to do all that I was able to do before. If it weren’t for my donor and her choice to donate her organs, I wouldn’t be here today living such a wonderful life. This gift of life is truly remembered and forever appreciated.
I don’t think people are aware of how many individuals are in need of an organ and/or tissue transplant. I have become an advocate for LifeLink (if you would like to learn more about this organization visit www.lifelinkfound.org). I speak at events and share my story to possible donors and donor families. Going through this whole experience has inspired me to change my career goal from becoming a lawyer to a renal transplant coordinator.
When I wake up in the morning as well as throughout the day I say, “The healing power of God is working in me right now.’’ I also recite this inspirational verse for each day: “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24, NIV). Each morning when I open my eyes I am reminded of how great my God is.
If you are interested in becoming a registered donor, please call LifeLink at (800)262-5775 or visit Donate Life Florida’s website at www.donatelifeflorida.org. Organ and tissue donors save many lives by giving the ultimate gift of life!