By: Jen White
Hi – I’m Jen – @mytransplantlife on Instagram. My Instagram page is educational in nature, as I’m a Registered Nurse with a graduate degree, having worked as a nurse educator, combining my health knowledge with my own kidney disease experience. I was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease in my early 20s, as a result of idiopathic glomulernephritis (unknown reason for why my kidneys failed). I was on hemodialysis for 3 months prior to receiving a kidney transplant in November 2008 at the age of 27.
Both dialysis and transplantation are treatments for renal failure. I did not do well on dialysis, feeling sick before and after treatments, as many people experience. I was at very low kidney function when I started dialysis, in denial and also stubborn, as there was no way I was living on a machine for the rest of my life! I believe my kidney function was around 8% before I went on dialysis, and the Canadian recommendations are to start dialysis around 15% function remaining. After multiple ED visits and increasingly high creatinine levels, I was forced into doing something about my health and had a central line inserted for my dialysis treatments. I kept trying to live my normal life, running and working out, but it was too much for my body. I remember hardly being able to walk up 3 flights of stairs without being out of breath before I had my transplant.
My transplant was a living unrelated donor, from my mom’s best friend. My donor and I match on 4 out of 6 antigens, which is pretty uncommon for 2 people who are not related. My donor is doing very well with her health having only 1 kidney.
I had a few complications following my transplant, including hydronephrosis and a bad infection because the stent in the ureter (the ureter is taken with the donor kidney and attached to the recipient’s bladder through an anastomosis (artificial hole made in the bladder wall) was blocked. I had my surgery at the end of November and spent more days in the hospital in December than I did at home! My kidney function is stable after almost 9 years, with a few health issues here and there.
Overall, I would not change my decision to have a transplant. Yes, there are risks associated with medications, but for me, those risks outweighed having to live my life attached to a machine.