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.
Four years into dialysis, Grace’s health took a turn. She had been on the organ donor list for about six years, but had shared her situation with very few people.
“I realized I had to start letting people know. I shared my story with my church and work community and created business cards that included my name, the fact I was on dialysis, and a phone number to call if someone wanted to be tested as a match.”
Grace gave her card to her future donor, Becca, and didn’t think much of it. She knew Becca and her mother from church. “ I had no idea how the story would end. I thought my donor would be a family member or friend, but I think that God wanted me to trust Him, give Him that compass of my life to navigate it with His own plans.”
Grace recalls that day she was sitting in a car in the parking lot and Kim from UPMC Pinnacle called her and asked how she was feeling, because she had good news for her. Jokingly, Grace replied “You have my kidney right?” Little did she know that they did, in fact, have a kidney for her. The news had Grace screaming with joy into the phone, not sure if she should jump or dance.
At first the name of the donor was not familiar until she started processing it on the drive home. When the women encountered one another at church on Easter Sunday, all suspicions were confirmed. Becca asked if Grace was ready and with a resounding YES, the two women cried and laughed together. For Grace, it couldn’t have been a more perfect way to learn the identity of her donor and for God to reveal Himself in that situation.
Given her strong faith, Grace wasn’t too worried about the transplant.
“I knew I was in good hands and was amazed with Dr. Yang and his group. The medical care was incredible. Everyone was supportive are amazing. They explained everything to me and were very compassionate.”
Today, Grace says everything has changed. Before dialysis, she couldn’t walk without becoming winded and tired. Now she can jog three miles and is able to attend her boys’ sports events.
Along with her newfound energy, Grace has discovered a new level of faith and appreciation for others and life
“I always thought I could solve issues by myself, but in surrendering to God, it shifts my eyes off me and placed it on the One who has power to control life and circumstances . Being sick or on dialysis can make you feel alone and want to keep to yourself, but allowing people to genuinely share in your pain can make a big difference.”
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