Every month, 2,000 new names are added to the national waiting list for an organ transplant and about 18 people die everyday waiting. The good thing about our kidneys most everyone is born with 2, but only need 1 working kidney to live a normal life. We met two women in the Aberdeen area. One is surviving on dialysis, waiting for a kidney, the other just got one.
Dialysis is a necessity for Joy Stiklestad. The Claremont woman comes to the Kidney Dialysis Unit at Avera St. Luke's Hospital in Aberdeen for 3 hours a day, 3 days a week. It's how she survives. Joy is diabetic and lost function of her kidneys nearly 2 years go.
Joy says, "Dialysis has helped me 100% and I feel better than I have in the last 10 years. It really is a wonderful thing."
Kidneys clean our blood and filter out the toxins we ingest every day. Dialysis does the work of the kidneys when they stop working.
Avera St. Luke's Registered Nurse Melanie Thome says, "Impurities build up in our system, for instance fluids build up in some patients and they end up carrying 10-20 pounds of extra fluid or more. It's hard on your heart and lungs and it might be hard to breath."
Connie Bonen was on dialysis for 4 1/2 years.
Connie says, "I felt like I was getting older. I was tired, going up the stairs I would be short winded."
Connie is one of approximately 82,000 people in this country waiting for a kidney. A month before we met her she finally got the call and a kidney. It came from a 50 year old man who had died. The transplant was done in Sioux Falls at the Avera Transplant Institute.
Connie says, "It's sad someone had to die, but it's good for my family."
Connie wanted to get the point across that it's important if you are an organ donor to not only mark it on your driver's license, but to tell your family your wishes.
As for Joy, she will continue with dialysis for as long as she can waiting, hoping for a kidney.
Joy says, "I got to thinking about my kids and my four grandkids and they are worth living for and to watch them grow up. That was my hope and I'm going to stick to it."
She knows dialysis holds the key to life until she gets the real gift of life.
For more information on becoming an organ donor contact the Avera Transplant Institute.