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Tina L.

My story reflects a long, often difficult, but optimistic journey. I was diagnosed with Wegener’s disease at only 15 years old. I didn’t expect it. After all, I was a regular, healthy teenager and living with a chronic illness was the last thing on my mind.

I had to finish high school by correspondence because I often felt weak, and missed out on regular activities and experiences every teenage seeks. I knew I would eventually need dialysis, but ‘eventually’ happened only 3 short years later. At 18, my kidney function deteriorated to a point that dialysis was required – first peritoneal and then hemodialysis.
I consider myself fortunate because I had a great support system. My family helped me during dialysis, and having a close friend who understood and was also going through the same experience, made a big difference.

For those on the transplant list, waiting is difficult. In my case, I needed to wait until my Wegener’s was in remission before I was even eligible to receive a new kidney. Once I was eligible, I received “the call” on five different occasions, but in each case, the potential kidney wasn’t a perfect match or it went to someone else.

So when I was told I’d be receiving my kidney on July 30, 2017, I was excited, but uncertain. Was this time really “the time”? It was. And for this, I thank my anonymous hero who was willing to register to be an organ donor, and pass on those wishes to his/her family.

I’ll never know who my hero was, but we need more heroes to step forward so more people can be free from dialysis and head into the surgery room before they pass away. I’m happy I’m not another statistic, and I hope my story motivates others to register to become organ donors.