A PowerPlayer is anyone who supports the life-saving cause of organ donation and transplantation, from the patients who receive transplants to the donors and their families who make those transplants possible, to the medical professionals who arrange and perform the life-saving miracle of transplantation. They serve to remind us that we all have the Power2Save. We have invited live kidney donor, Cheryl Cushingberry, to share her story through this blog post.
By Cheryl Cushingberry
Christmas Eve 2014
My husband, Carey, and I went into the Nephrologist office in February not even understanding why we were there. Dr. Doig said Carey’s numbers were off, so we had to address them. Dr. Biederman, Nephrologist, said it was likely Carey was in kidney failure and tests needed to be confirmed to determine status.
We underwent tests, and it was determined that Carey was in Stage 4 kidney failure. (Wow!) The Nephrologist recommended immediate dialysis, but my husband refused. I called the National Kidney Foundation to see what his options were. They told me if he refused dialysis, he would die. I shared that information with him, and he was ok with that. I thought about transplant surgery and Dr. Biederman agreed we could consider transplant surgery as an alternative. He connected us with the Henry Ford Transplant Institute and Dr. Goggins (his former instructor) as our connection to their system.
We met with them, and the rest is history. He completed his testing, I completed my testing to become a potential donor, and we were a match. After all of these years of marriage, we were sanctioned. The surgery was scheduled for December 24th. Yes, Christmas Eve! It was so amazing, Dr. Kim performed the surgery, and I was unaware of the issues with the surgery. But the next morning, my husband walked to my room to check on my status. How beautiful a sight that was to me – to know that he was fine and checking up on me. By the way, he will never get another Christmas present from me again – he already received the ultimate gift!
God is so good. We are both fine now, and I volunteer the TLC and PHAC groups at HFTI. I will continue to volunteer as long as I have life. I have spoken at conferences and have attended conferences (Living Donor Conference in Clearwater, Florida, and PCORI Conference in Chicago, Illinois) to promote what saving a life is about. I was shocked when I initially considered live donation and my family members questioned my decision. It was a no-brainer for me, but they said they would never consider a live kidney donation and they all had been married longer than I was. (Wow!) It also shocked me when the statistics showed African American families are the least likely to consider organ donation. I was taken back.
That’s why I volunteer to bring awareness and dispel the myths about organ donation, so people will reconsider their positions about this important life-saving matter.