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They Saw Me at My Worst, They Saw Me Walk Out of There: DaVita Transplant Recipient Tells His Story
I am finally ready to get back to work and start making a living for myself again. Because for so long, I was so sick.
I could not have made it through this difficult time if it weren’t for my parents. Without them, I would have been lost. My girlfriend Nora and I got sick around the same time. We could barely support ourselves and my parents, Pat and Julie, supported us in deep, meaningful ways.
My transplant journey started in July 2015, when I was hospitalized locally at Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Illinois. My condition quickly worsened, so I was transferred to UChicago Medicine to treat my kidneys and liver, which were failing.
Being on a dual transplant list for both my kidneys and liver felt overwhelming. Most of my hospital stay was a blur, but I do remember how my doctor and his team got me through this. When you get sick, you want to crawl into a hole. The team provided me with so much more than education, they gave me hope.
Thankfully, my liver eventually recovered and I was removed from the liver transplant list. Filled with hope, I started my dialysis journey August 2015 at DaVita Renal Center West.
I often reminisce about the relationships built with my caregivers at DaVita. In addition to my family, they kept me going during a rough time of my life. Because of my health, I wasn’t able to get out into the community and have fun like I used to. DaVita became my community, and well, building relationships with the people surrounding me became my fun. They supported me through numerous graft failures and celebrated with me when I successfully received a fistula.
There was never a lack of information, and the team provided countless examples of the transplant process and past patient experience. The staff helped talk through different modality options with me and ultimately, in-center treatment was the best option for me. As for the decision to remain on the kidney transplant list, it was a no brainer. It was survival. Period.
And after four years on dialysis, I received a kidney on February 23, 2019. I got really lucky. It started working right away.
Today, Nora and I challenge each other to keep a healthy lifestyle by incorporating some major lifestyle changes. One of the biggest changes is that we buy healthier food. Sometimes I will see one of my former DaVita caregivers at the grocery store and it’s exactly like running into a long-time friend.
My dad continues to go with me every month to the doctors and my parents stop by to check in on me every week. The support they give Nora and me is incredible. My post-transplant health is so much better and after a long and hard job hunt, I finally started a job with a construction company driving a dump truck. I can now get back to normal because of all the wonderful caretakers that have surrounded me throughout the years.