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Son Tamang: Kidney Transplant

In October 2010, Son and Buddhi Tamang came to the United States from their homeland of Nepal — part of what was then one of the United Nations’ largest international refugee resettlement efforts. Just in their early 20s, the young couple settled in Georgia with their growing family, finding work as in-home caregivers.

Family is very important to Son and Buddhi. They discovered just how important a family’s love and support is eight years later when Son learned he needed a new kidney.

In March 2018, Son came home from work with a high temperature and high blood pressure. “We immediately went to the emergency department,” he says. “They did tests and found out I was in kidney failure.” Son had IgA nephropathy, a rare disease where a buildup of proteins lowers the kidneys’ ability to filter waste and fluid from the blood. It results in swelling and kidney damage. “When the nephrologist told me I needed a new kidney, I was shocked,” says Son. “I don’t drink or smoke. There was nothing that would lead me to think that I’d need a new kidney.”

The doctor asked if he had a support system to help him and his family through a transplant. “Our families live in Harrisburg, so we moved right away to be closer to them,” says Son. They went to UPMC Harrisburg Kidney Transplant Services to begin the transplant process, and Son was placed on the transplant waiting list in July 2018.

“There were times when I felt hopeless,” admits Son. But that changed with the help of the doctors and staff at UPMC and especially the support of his family. “I came to terms with needing a transplant,” he says. “I had to do what was needed and then I could move forward.”

For three years, Son went for dialysis three days a week. By 2021, the couple was increasingly worried that he been on the transplant list for so long. Buddhi decided to donate her kidney. “I love and support him,” says Buddhi. “I donated to give him a new life with me and our young children.” 

In November 2021, Buddhi donated her kidney and Son received his transplant. Both surgeries went smoothly. “When I woke up the next morning, it was such a relief to be able to go to the bathroom by myself,” Son remembers. “It felt like I was back to normal!” 

“The transplant has been a blessing for our whole family,” says Buddhi. “We’re so fortunate to have the support of our families,” adds Son. “I’m especially grateful for Buddhi. She gave me the gift of life.”