April is donate life month and the Avera Transplant Institute wants to get the word out about the importance of donors, dead or alive. Nancy Naeve Brown met a Sioux Falls woman who got a kidney transplant just two months ago and already feels better than she has in 4 years.
Beth Ericson from Sioux Falls found out in August 2007 she had FSGS (Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis), a kidney disease causing end stage renal failure. Her Avera Nephrologist Dr. Robert Santella says they don't know what exactly causes the filtering units to shut down, they only know when they do complications will follow.
"One of the side effects of this disease is it disrupts the protein in the body. Which made blood clots and she had multiple blood clots in her lungs and legs," Dr. Santella with Avera Medical Group Nephrology said.
Her only real chance of surviving was a kidney transplant.
"When I found that out it was scary, very scary and very hard on my kids for one thing. It's something kids shouldn't see a parent go through. It was shocking, "Beth said.
Her kidneys held out for two more years before she went on dialysis in September 2009. She had to do that 3 days a week, 3 hours at a time and waited for a kidney. None of her family or friends who got tested were matches.
"We need more living donors no question about it. If we had everyone who cold donate would donate we would take people off the list. The problem with dialysis is it keeps people alive, but the quality of life is terrible and shortens life expectancy," Dr. Santella said.
After being tied to dialysis for 3 years, Beth got the call on February 22, 2012 a matching kidney was available from a deceased donor. She didn't have to leave Sioux Falls to get it either. She had transplant surgery at Avera McKennan Hospital.
"I had gotten a call 2 times before and it just didn't work out. This time it was pretty much a given, a guarantee and I was excited and nervous. It was a bitter sweet moment. It all turned out great," Beth said.
Her new kidney tripled her life expectancy and more than quadrupled her spirits. Again keep in mind; she is only two month post surgery.
"Right now I feel pretty much back to normal. I'm feeling healthy with a lot of energy which I haven't had for 4 years. It's a big change, "Beth said.
Beth is hoping to one day meet and thank the family who gave her a second chance at life which she knows had to be tough since they were facing death.
"Absolutely. It's the best gift I've ever gotten for sure," Beth said.
Because someone shared the gift of life with Beth, her 3 children Laken, Berkley and Easton will get so many more years with the most important person in their life.
Your decision to be an organ donor can save lives. Check the box on your driver's license and then it's essential to share your decision with your family because they will have the final say if you die.
For more information:
www.DonateLifeSD.org 1-888-5-DONATE (888-536-6283)