Receiving a transplant, or becoming a donor, is a life-changing experience. Our transplant recipients and donors share their inspiring stories about how their lives have been transformed through organ donation.
Michael never knew that donating one kidney could trigger a “chain reaction” and improve the quality of life for multiple people until he saw a story on the national news. That story stirred something inside of him, and led him to contact the transplant team at UPMC Pinnacle.
Lydia was excited and preparing for the birth of her first child. Little did she know, her kidneys were failing and putting her and her unborn son’s lives at risk. Follow Lydia’s journey through a high-risk pregnancy, dialysis, and an eventual paired kidney exchange transplant.
Patience certainly is a virtue for Leonard Weaver, who at age 77, had waited nine years for his new kidney. Having a rare blood type and after 30 potential donors who ended up not being a match, Dialysis seemed to be his only hope. All of that changed, however on June 8, 2019, when he found his match.
For Gert and Lew Pryor, theirs is a love story that is both inspirational and almost surreal. Thirty-two years ago, Gert gave Lewis her heart when she walked down the aisle to say her vows. Unbeknownst to her, she later would give him her kidney and another new beginning.
After an annual checkup indicated something was happening with Edith’s kidneys, she was sent to a kidney specialist and underwent a biopsy. The results were not good. The lower part of her organ was diseased and not working. In 2015, Edith went on dialysis and followed protocol, checking in with her doctors and making changes to her diet, but nobody could do anything more for her. She remained on dialysis until her transplant on March 6, 2019.
They say that family is the tie that binds. For the Blemler family, nothing could be more accurate.
As a man who enjoys building hot rods, Duane knows it takes time to put all the right pieces into place before running at full capacity. Whether it’s his 1966 Chevy or his health, the bigger picture always has been in plain sight, along with patience and an overall appreciation for the people who have helped him along the way.
For Orlando, life is about new beginnings. Born with end stage renal disease, he died three times the day he was born and was on dialysis as a kid for nearly seven years, three times a week, where he says he spent a lot of time at home waiting for his first kidney.
For TJ, what was thought to be typical “growing pains” turned out to be so much more. At the age of 16, his driver’s license physical revealed he had kidney disease that likely stemmed from having diabetes longer than he originally thought. TJ later was introduced to his nephrologist and was, in his words, “coasting” until life threw him another curveball.
At age 40, Paddy suffered a mini stroke due to high blood pressure, unbeknownst to him. While he changed medications, followed doctor’s orders, and attempted to get it under control, his kidneys slowly deteriorated over the years, leaving him with complete renal failure. Paddy had been placed on the transplant list at the end of 2016, after he connected with UPMC Pinnacle.
Kelly was diagnosed with kidney disease after having unexplained high blood pressure for two years as a young adult, along with fatigue and nausea. While nobody in her family has a history of kidney disease, she was told she had IgA Nephropathy. Furthermore, the deterioration of her kidneys was happening fast, and she ended up on peritoneal dialysis for 10 months before her first transplant at age 27. Kelly felt fortunate that her husband was able to be her donor.
According to the Christian faith, the word “grace” means the free and unmerited favor of God as a bestowal of blessings. Anyone who has met Grace Ajemba may say she embodies that very definition given her personal journey. When Grace miscarried at four months, she remained ill and unaware of the cause until bloodwork revealed that she had multiple cysts on her kidney. Eventually, she would end up on dialysis. It was a diagnosis and lifestyle about which she was in denial for several years.
Ongoing high blood pressure led to Cecil’s kidney failure in 2004. Yet, that was just the beginning of his health challenges. Several medical conditions, including infections in his spine, as well as a prostate cancer diagnosis, followed by stomach cancer, kept him on dialysis for nearly 15 years.
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