How did you end up in kidney failure in the first place?
I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called polyarteritis nodosa (PAN), which essentially means inflammation of the arteries.

Why are kidneys important?
Well, just as any organ, it is a crucial part of the human body. You can't live without your heart, brain, skin, liver, etc. They are all vital to live. Kidneys are a very special organ that often go unnoticed.

Kidneys are crucial for a couple of reasons:

1. Kidneys clean waste from your body. That waste turns into urine, which you expel. And if your kidneys aren't working, that fluid has nowhere to go, because they're not sending it to the bladder anymore.

2. Kidneys clean the blood. Blood moves in and out of our kidneys constantly, and the kidneys have millions of microscopic filters that "scrub" the blood clean. 
Dialysis does this for patients since the kidneys no longer can.

Why haven't you received a kidney yet?
I'd like to know that, too! I'm on the national kidney transplant waiting list. The wait can take up to six years for my blood type (O+). I'm also taking part in the new paired kidney donation exchange program, including my sister Stephanie.
"The National Kidney Registry is a unique nationwide organ donor exchange program that facilitates paired exchanges, a process in which an organ donor donates their kidney to a recipient other than their loved one in exchange for a compatible kidney for their loved one. This program can facilitate living donor transplants among those patients that are hard to match and may help in many instances to find a better match than conventional living donor transplants."
There are more than twenty people, that I know of, being tested right now. So, hopefully one of these avenues produces a kidney for me soon!

Why can't your sister donate to you? I thought she was a match 15 years ago?
Stephanie was a perfect match for me the first time around, but she was pregnant and therefore unable to donate. As for this time around, all was going very well and we were sure I was going to receive one of her kidneys. The transplant team was also so sure of it that they weren't testing any other candidates at the time. As it turns out, our antigens had changed after having kids, so we were no longer a compatible match.

What is peritoneal dialysis?
Peritoneal dialysis differs from hemodialysis, a more commonly used blood-filtering procedure. With peritoneal dialysis, you can give yourself treatments at home, at work or while traveling.

Does peritoneal dialysis hurt?
Haha, no. The surgery did hurt (a surgeon has to go in through your abdominal muscle and attach several anchors to secure the catheter). But once that healed (after a week or two), it was totally fine. The only time I experience discomfort now is the occasional cramping near the end of a dialysis session, which is normal.

Do you still urinate?
No. A lot of patients still urinate while on dialysis, but I unfortunately do not. I haven't urinated in about nine months now. It's crazy to think about that.

Can anyone donate?
Unfortunately, no. Donor candidates have to share my blood type (O+), or possess the universal blood type (O-). Candidates also need to also be a tissue match, be in good health, and have no history of serious illness such as diabetes, hypertension, etc. The medical staff is very thorough in their testing in order to protect the donor and the recipient.

Does it cost money to donate a kidney?
No. The donor only pays for the gas they use driving to and from the hospital. All testing and surgery is absorbed by the hospital.

What is the testing process like?
There are blood and physiological tests, as well as a discussion to make sure you're doing it for the right reasons.

Have a question?
Contact me and I'll get back to you.