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 lives.
This week we spoke with Lindsey Kottwitz, who told us her inspiring story.
What was the medical condition that led to you needing an organ transplant?
I had microscopic polyangiitis. It’s an autoimmune disease that affects the kidneys and can affect the lungs. [In my case] it mostly affected one of my kidneys. It’s very rare, I think when I was diagnosed they said it affects about 3 in a million people. I was diagnosed in 2003, when I was 15.
Did you know you’d need an organ transplant for full recovery?
They told me that I would need dialysis, and because I was so young I was a good candidate for a transplant. That was our main focus. I was on dialysis for about 8 months so. Because the disease was so rare they had to do more research and figure out how to suppress it. That whole time I was on dialysis we were getting ready for transplant.
How did you feel during the time you were waiting for your transplant?
It was really hard, especially for a teenager in high school. Being that age the only thing on your mind is hanging out with your friends. It was really hard being that young, I had a lot of depression, a lot of the “why me?” questions. I’m an only child and my dad is a truck driver so all week it was my mom and me. It was really tough to get through, but we had a lot of support. It was scary being that young but we got through.
Describe the emotion you felt when you were told that you had gotten a matching kidney.
Well my dad was actually my donor. We found that out not too long after I was diagnosed, and were able to do the transplant in June of 2004. It was a relief for me but looking back I don’t think I really understood it being that young. I think I took everything for granted. Now my relationship with my dad is so much better and I can actually appreciate that.
How has your life been different since the transplant?
Well, I have my dream job as a dialysis R.N. I just graduated in December and I can’t be more thankful for that. It is difficult; I can’t do everything that healthy people can. I take a whole bunch of pills, which is fine. I just got married in July, and having kids was really important to us. We had to see a lot of doctors and switch around pills a lot. Right now though, I’m actually 6 weeks pregnant. But I feel great, I feel healthy!
What makes you a PowerPlayer?
I took a horrible situation and turned it into something positive. I went to school to become a nurse and have worked in dialysis for 6 years. I want to do everything I can to help dialysis patients. It’s so nice because I get to support those patients in a way that not everyone can. Being able to understand where they’re coming from. We work with them to get them off dialysis and towards getting a transplant. I wouldn’t change it for the world!