April is National Donate Life Month and the IGA Nephropathy Foundation of America would like to encourage people to consider being a kidney donor.
Just a few statistics,13 people die each day while waiting for a life-saving kidney transplant and over 3,000 patients are added to the list each month. With this desperate need of donor’s, the IGAN foundation will spotlight 2 Kidney donors each week for the month of April to share their story about the donor process.
We are excited to have Alex Berrios, an IGAN transplant patient conduct these interviews. Below is Alex’s BIO.
Greetings My name is Alex Berrios. I serve a patient services advocate with the University of Kentucky. I am a 13-year kidney transplant recipient and my goal is to help patients at all stages of their kidney disease understand the process of getting a Kidney transplant. I am interested in understanding where the patient is in their thinking about receiving a transplant. I am here to talk with patients, caregivers, and their medical team to discuss all options from direct transplantation to possibly looking at the paired exchange program. I also encourage patients to consider the living donor program as well.
I have been involved in different avenues in the Kidney space from grassroots lobbying to help bring to the forefront some issues about individuals with Kidney disease, from Immunosuppressive coverage for the life of the kidney transplant to protecting Living donors from any type of discrimination.
I am here to help answer any questions, myths or concerns about the prospects of getting a kidney transplant. My areas of strength are trying to ensure the patients I talk with have the best possible experience they can have through advocating and open communication about the transplant process.
I look forward to working with you and helping you along this journey.
Mike Atkinson Donor Story
Mike, and his wife Stacy of 39 years, live in San Diego and have 8 children and 11 grandchildren. He is in internet marketing and his hobby is growing plumeria, the flower of the Hawaiian lei. Mike is part of a paired kidney exchange program. Here is their story. Featured in the San Diego Union-Tribune:
Kathy Kelsey Donor Story In discussing our journey in honor of Donate Life month, it is filled with coincidences and support from strangers who have become dear friends. My husband Artie, was diagnosed with IGA Nephropathy in 2011 and so began the search for a match. Our community, family and friends were quick to help in our quest, but we were feeling the toll of ups and downs. Little did we know that customers at Artie’s restaurant would provide a lifeline. Bonnie Schneiider (Founder) provided more than emotional support, she became a good friend Artie could call day and night. Her optimistic outlook was especially essential on our darkest days. Our life changing news came as an early Christmas present in 2013, I was a match! The transplant took place on May 14, 2014. And as fitting, Bonnie drove Artie home from the hospital Here is our story.
Michael Warner Donor Story
Hello everyone, My name is Michael Warner. I donated a kidney to my son in 2012 prompted by IgA Nephropathy. I am grateful that our health system is able to perform over 20,000 kidney’s a year. This restores quality of life to members of our society, including my son. As a family doctor who practiced for decades and am now a medical school professor, I appreciate the need to support kidney donation.
I encourage everyone to be an organ donor because our supply of kidneys cannot satisfy the number needed. Your organs can continue to bring life to many people.
I encourage you to consider kidney donation, particularly if a friend or family member needs kidney transplantation. Someday, we will have better cures for kidney disease, including artificial kidneys or perhaps stem cell therapies to rejuvenate damaged kidneys?
For now, and the near future, kidney transplantation restores life. I encourage you to reach out to those who have donated and received kidneys. Understand what it takes to go through the process and prepare yourself with all reasonable options.
Lyndzie Webster Donor Story Lyndzie is a living kidney donor from Salt Lake City. She graciously donated her kidney to her wife, who has IgA Nephropathy, in October of 2017. Lyndzie has advocated with the National Kidney Foundation for the Living Donor Protection Act and advocates for and supports living donors and their individual processes of donation. In Lyndzie’s spare time, she plays softball and basketball, hikes and camps all over the Utah mountain ranges, enjoys cooking and watching sports and spending time with their daughter Sage.
Monica Naughton My name is Renee McArdle and I have been married to my husband, Joe, for 52 years. I do not know if our story would be considered “unique,” but we were able, by the grace of God, to give the “gift of life” to two of our three children. Our daughter, Monica, was born in 1972 and our youngest son, Brian, in 1974. In 1993, through an abnormal test in a physical for PT school, our son was diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy. He received his first transplant in 1999 at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital. I was the donor. My surgery was pre-laparoscopic, and I was discharged after five days. There was pain and a large incision, but it was worth every bit. Brian was able to skip dialysis this time. He continued to work, race Legend cars, and even had two more children. Around 2003, our daughter was also diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy. Her first transplant was donated by a family friend in 2004 after a couple of months on peritoneal dialysis. Approximately three years later, it failed. After several months on hemo dialysis, Joe was able to donate a kidney in 2007 at UAB. Joe’s surgery was laparoscopic, and he seemed to recover more quickly than I had eight years earlier. The day after surgery, he made sure he that was able to walk to his daughter’s bedside! She went on to marry in 2012, gave birth to her first child in 2013, and her second in 2018, without any issues. After nearly a decade with my kidney, Brian’s doctors found that it was failing and would require another transplant. He endured hemodialysis for about a year and, in 2013, he and my sister (his aunt) were part of a six-member, paired kidney exchange at UAB.Today, both Brian’s and Monica’s donated kidneys continue to be strong.As parents, we are inherently moved to do whatever we can for our children, with neither question nor hesitation. As healthy and able people, we should be moved to do the same. Living donation – whether family or friend, matched or paired – IS the greatest gift that can be given!
Dianne Bergmann I am married with 5 children and 1 granddaughter. I was a stay at home mom until last year. My children are all grown with one finishing high school, one in the Navy, two in college and one out on her own. I live in Maryland and live aboard a sailboat full time with my amazing husband and the children home often.
Lisa Clark Lisa Clark lives in Central New Jersey with her children. She works mostly from home as a writer. She enjoys answering questions about her kidney donor experience and you can find her on Twitter @CopyWithHeart
Glenn Glenn “Croc” Millar is a kidney donor who donated his kidney to Mike Atkinson on December 29, 2015, when he was 55 years old. He has one daughter and is Grandfather to two girls and a boy.
Glenn is part of “a chain of love”, in that he started by wanting to donate to firefighter Heather Kantor, but because they weren’t a match, they were put into the national kidney pool. Heather ended up getting her kidney from a woman in the pool named Breelyn Horn and Glenn’s kidney went to Mike Atkinson. Mike Atkinson’s original donor was Emory Fuqua, but her’s was too small for Mike. Instead of going to Mike, it went to a person in Colorado, saving another life. This was the start of a chain that has saved multiple people’s lives and created lifelong relationships.
Today, Glenn lives in sunny San Diego as does his recipient Mike. Although Glenn didn’t know Mike before the surgery, and didn’t live in the same city at the time of surgery, they have become close friends.
WEEK ONE Friday April 3rd:
WEEK TWO Friday April 10th:
WEEK THREE Friday April 17th:
WEEK FOUR Friday April 24th: