Before I was a Kidney Warrior I was a Marine
End-Stage Renal Disease (the last stage of kidney disease) is a medical condition in which a person’s kidneys cease functioning on a permanent basis leading to the need for a regular course of long-term dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain life (source: cms.gov).
Kidney Disease is one of the lesser known illnesses. Maybe because kidneys are a pair of the lesser known organs in the human body. Personally, I knew the bare minimum about kidney disease because of a relative who received a kidney transplant after being on dialysis for a few years. I thought it was just an old person’s/unhealthy overweight person’s disease. It would never happen to me.
I felt the healthiest I ever did in my life! In 2011, I was in Afghanistan …I was a Combat Camera Marine. And then one day my legs and face began swelling. After a few weeks of being stubborn, I finally went to medical. In a matter of days, I was immediately medically evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany. Two weeks in Germany, then back to the states to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. I got to spend a lovely amount of time there undergoing every test you could imagine to ultimately be diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder which caused my kidneys to fail.
This caused a bunch of “you can’t make this stuff up” life experiences that changed my entire life. I received my second chance at life on April 2, 2011. My living donor is the most selfless, caring person that I have ever met…except that I didn’t meet her until after she agreed to be my kidney donor. It took me feeling my life leave my body to reach out for help…and she found me.
When I woke up from the transplant surgery, when I realized that it was over I started crying. I was so happy. It could have been the drugs, but all I could think is that I wanted everyone who survives by dialysis to feel the way that I do right at this moment.
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