The rate of kidney disease has jumped significantly in this county since the Mid-1990's. Up 30%, an estimated 26 million people are living with chronic kidney disease. Since it's National Kidney Month, we talked to a Northwest Iowa woman who is living proof that living donors can make a world of difference.
Five years after Carol Boote from Hull, Iowa got the gift of life, the staff at Avera North Central Kidney Institute say she is the poster child for kidney transplants.
Nephrologist Dr. Tina Melanson says, "She has a wonderful life. So much better than the quality of life she would have on dialysis. And transplant for anyone, including Carol, offers a reasonable life expectancy, a normal life expectancy that would not be achievable on dialysis."
Carol was born with polycystic kidney disease, but doctors didn't discover it until she was treated for a kidney stone and that's when they noticed her kidney's were growing abnormally.
Carol says, "I was just this normal person who had kidney disease. It's hereditary but no one in my family had it. I didn't have diabetes, I was never on dialysis. I was lucky that way. They were able to track it for 15 years and before I needed a transplant."
When the time came, she says any one of her family members would have given her a kidney, but it was her sister she had an unspoken agreement with. She gladly gave up hers.
Carol says, "My sister Carla and I are only 15 months apart and all through our lives we've been like this (she holds up her index finger next to her middle finger). We were together all the time. If she was going out on the boat for the weekend I would joke with her to be careful. I might need that kidney today. "
Now part of Carla is always with Carol and Carol says she feels a million times better.
Carol laughs, "Oh my gosh, what a difference. Five years ago, before I had this transplant, I was 47 then, I was tired, anemic and at the time I think I just thought this is how a 47 year old acts. I get the transplant and 6 months later I'm doing things I haven't done in a long time. My energy came back. My color came back. When I went back to my job at school as the school nurse, people said my gosh, have you been in the tanning booth? I suddenly had color again. Everything worked better. My life is really good."
Carol will be on anti-rejection medication the rest of her life, but she says that's a small price to pay for how her health has improved.Even though Carol can never donate a kidney, she is a committed to being an organ donor and so is everyone in her family.
Carol's sister Carla lives in Sioux City and is also doing great. Neither one of them had any side effects.