There approximately 100,000 people on the kidney transplant waiting list and many people wait more than 5-10 years for a kidney from a deceased donor.
April is National Donate Life Month, a month to bring awareness to the need for kidneys and the patients that know time is not on their side.
Imagine being on dialysis for more than 16 years, all that time waiting for a kidney and praying each day one would become available. That’s what life was like for Rebecca King and being included on the transplant list looked like it would not happen.
She tells us, “I had polycystic kidney disease and that put me on dialysis for 16.5 years, also, breast cancer and melanoma took me off the transplant list.”
But, King got lucky; her health improved enough that she was put on the transplant list and, to her surprise, she got the call she was waiting for just weeks later.
“I waited less than four weeks and it happened January 6th of ’18.”
“How do you feel now?”
“Doing fine, all my bloodwork, everything is fine.”
King had her transplant done at UPMC Hamot. Not having to travel to Pittsburgh or Cleveland in itself was a health benefit and King says she had no doubts about having her surgery done locally.
President of UPMC Hamot, David Gibbons, tells us what sets them apart.
“Yes, we have operating rooms; so does every other hospital. Yes, we have staff; so does every other hospital. But, it’s our staff that are trained, our entire nursing force in six south went to UPMC Presbyterian and were trained there to care appropriately for kidney transplant patients.”
King says she’s on a mission to spread the word about being put on the national donor list so, no matter where you are, if tragedy strikes, your organs can be quickly harvested and used, instead of sending them back to the state you were from.
Today, King is doing just fine. She takes some medication but compared to what it could have been, she considers herself one lucky lady.