Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Life In Limbo Awaiting Kidney Donation

Debbie Lambertson endures setbacks while waiting for transplant call

By Sondra Murphy
Debbie Lambertson has had a long wait, four years and counting, to resume a normal life. She, and husband Glenn, have been in limbo awaiting a kidney transplant that the two hope will restore some normality to their lives.
“We both have cell phones so we can get the call, anywhere at anytime,” said Lambertson, who must remain in the area if a donor kidney becomes available. The two are not alone in their ordeal. The average wait for a kidney transplant is five to seven years with 77,000 Americans waiting for kidneys each year and only 17,000 likely to receive one. Meanwhile Lambertson is on daily home dialysis, a process that takes about 11 to 12 hours to complete, using a reverse osmosis system to remove impurities from her blood.
Lambertson was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease 30 years ago. It causes large cysts to form in her kidneys and damages the surrounding tissue.
In 2002, her kidneys began to fail and a year later she was put on dialysis.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, kidney disease is often caused by either diabetes or high blood pressure and affects 20 million Americans, or one in nine U.S. adults.
The Foundation says early detection can often help prevent the progression of kidney disease and the increased possibility of heart disease that accompanies it. Twenty million Americans are at increased risk for developing kidney disease including those with diabetes, hypertension or a family history of the disease. Seniors, Native Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, and African Americans are also at increased risk. They recommend three simple tests to detect chronic kidney disease: blood pressure, urine albumin and serum creatinin.
Chronic kidney disease damages your kidneys and decreases their ability to cleanse the blood. As kidney disease gets worse, waste builds up in your blood.
This leads to complications including high blood pressure, anemia, nerve damage and possible heart and blood vessel disease. When kidney disease progresses, it can lead to kidney failure, which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain life. This is where the Lambertsons are now.
Wendy Giroux, who spent a year on dialysis before receiving a kidney transplant six months ago, said she thinks it helps when more people are aware of the process and wants to let them know the procedure to donate is much easier now, being performed by laparoscopy.
“I’m doing great and everything is back to normal,” said Giroux who received her kidney from a co-worker. “I’m back to work full-time,” said Giroux. “It’s like a miracle.”
Lambertson said her wait has put her through some ups and downs.
“My sister was going to give me a kidney, a perfect match,” said Lambertson, “but she had a melanoma on her leg years ago so they wouldn’t do the transplant.” She said the doctors feared cancer cells might be present in the donated kidney so they refused her sister as a donor.
That wasn’t their only recent disappointment. Her husband had successfully completed the tests to donate one of his kidneys last year when he suffered a heart attack because of a clogged artery. He then had to undergo treatment of his own and is no longer a viable candidate for kidney donation.
“They told us if they take my kidney, and I have more heart trouble, I’ll be in worse shape then Debbie,” said her husband who is active, along with his wife, in a Simi Valley foundation for organ donation awareness. “It’s different in other countries. There you carry a card in your wallet if you don’t want your organs donated,” he added. “Americans still want to be buried or cremated with all their organs intact.”
They’ve actually been called from the donor list once.
“They called and we went through all the tests to see if I was a match,“ said Lambertson, “and I did but I was the second in line on the list.”
The first person called, one ahead of her in line, got the kidney.
Lambertson said that they call in three patients at a time to test so the organ will definitely be used and won’t go to waste.
They remain optimistic. Just to show they haven’t lost their sense of humor, they actually brought up a Finnish game show where the prize was a kidney. They then seriously added that her brother, who also suffered from the disease, just had a successful transplant surgery last week.
They are encouraged by the progress they see being made with living donor programs, donation of organs from the living rather than those pronounced dead in emergency situations, and the new anti-rejection drugs that add to success rates of transplant surgeries. They are also thankful they have good insurance and receive Medicare to help pay their medical expenses.
“If we get one we’re going to Hawaii,” said her husband, “and take some time off!”
For more information on kidney disease and what you can do go to:kidney.org/kidney disease.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Come on people,ask a friend if thay can help this woman.