Organ Donor Saves Lives

When Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) threatened Shery Fogle’s life, living on dialysis didn’t fit her plans. Thanks to an unknown organ donor, her life once again became full of plans.

The Wait

Shery tells what is was like waiting for her kidney. It took 18 months to make it to the top of the donor list. Finally, the long awaited kidney was available. When they got “the call,” Shery and her husband, Dave, drove almost 60 miles to Research Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. The drive was slow because of a severe snow storm. While every minute counted, they still arrived late. Once in the emergency room, she was rushed directly into pre-op.

Shery: “They had me ready to go, and then somebody came in and told me that the gentleman hadn’t died as fast as expected. His family was still with him saying their goodbyes.”
Me: “So you knew the donor was somewhere in the same hospital still alive?”
Shery: “Talk about a mental thing,” her eyes moistened and a quiver changed her voice, “I’m waiting for this person to die, so I can live.”
Me: Speechless.
Shery: “Suddenly there was this big rush. I was prepped more and had to say my goodbyes. (For surgery). There wasn’t anymore time to think. They put a catheter in and I went in for my kidney.”

Life Remains a Challenge

The next week of her life was spent in the hospital. They had her up and walking that evening. She, and everyone around her, had to wear gloves and a mask to prevent germ contact.

A board in her room had her new medication list. She had to memorize each med and what it did before going home. Three were for anti-rejection, keeping her body from rejecting what it recognized as a foreign object.

A donor recipient typically remains on medications the rest of their life.

Me: “So now you have to take anti-rejections meds the rest of your life?”
Shery: “I take Prograf, Myfortic and Prednisone for anti-rejection, all two times a day. I’m also on a thyroid pill, Levothyroxine. Oh yeah, and a Renavite and B1 and B6.”
Me: “Good grief, that’s a lot of pills.”
Shery: “It doesn’t seem so bad now, I’m used to it.”

Since receiving her kidney, she’s also had cataract surgery, diabetes, and weight gain. All are part of the side effects of her medication. With help from lap band surgery and Zumba classes she’s lost the weight (and then some) and is no longer diabetic.

Without dialysis and a new kidney, Shery might not be here today.

On the first anniversary of receiving her kidney, Shery wrote to the donor’s family. She received no response at the time and can only speculate whether or not it was due to their grief. Coming up on her kidney’s fifth anniversary , she plans to send a second letter.

Me: “What would you tell the donors family, if you were given the chance?”
Shery: “I know they suffered a great loss. I’d want to let them know that I’ve tried to keep it as healthy as possible. I’ve tried to live as much life as I can possibly live with it.”

Would she recommend somebody else becoming a donor or a recipient? You bet. In fact, she is now a speaker for The Gift of Life and has become a mentor for others on the transplant list. She shared the following link for those interested in learning more about organ donation. Links within the site provide information for those seeking organs as well.

The National Network of Organ Donors
http://www.thenationalnetworkoforgandonors.org/index.html

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