MARC'S STORY.....IN HIS OWN WORDS
As some of you may know, the past 2 years have been a roller coaster ride of medical successes followed by some devastating failures. In December, 2015, I received a kidney transplant in what was a complicated but ultimately successful surgery. I had been given the most amazing gift from a caring and selfless person. To this day, I still can not thank her enough for what she did. At that time, we were all filled with happiness and hope that the long decline in my health was over. Sadly, the kidney worked great for only 2 months before my labs began to show signs of problems and the kidney started to fail. The doctors found that it had become infected with a virus, BK Virus. Although present in nearly all people, when seen in kidney transplant patients, it is a significant problem and a common cause of transplant failure. In spite of aggressive treatment over the following 4 months, the transplant rejected and ultimately failed in June, 2016, about 6 months after it was implanted. It was needless to say, a devastating loss. I was forced to resume dialysis treatments 3 times a week.
The past 15 months have been difficult, both physically and emotionally. I returned to work part time in February, 2016 and was able to maintain my schedule in spite of the need for treatment and dialysis. I found that working and caring for others gave me a sense of normalcy and purpose and was often the best part of my day. The support from my partners, my office staff, and the hospital personnel buoyed my spirits when I was down and for a few hours let me forget the sadness from my loss.
I’ve also spent the last year getting opinions about how to proceed from some of the leading kidney transplant experts around the country. I was fortunate to meet some very smart and caring doctors and nurses and along the way got an intensive education about kidney transplants and the science of how they work (and fail).
I ultimately decided to pursue treatment at The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Their kidney transplant program is one of the largest in the US and their Nephrology department is routinely ranked as the top program by US News and World Report. (it was #1 in the rankings again this year). I have been evaluated and approved by their transplant team.
While a second transplant is more complicated due to the past transplant, the doctors at Mayo assure me that they are equipped to handle my case and are confident that they can and will guide me through this process and ultimately to a new and successful transplant. Due to the previous transplant, I have been “sensitized”. This means that I have made antibodies to a large portion of the population and while it will be harder to find a match, the team at Mayo assures me that thru testing and their databases, they will find a match for me. It also means that they will need to test more possible donors than the first time.
I am currently stable and in good physical condition and the team at Mayo feels that this is the time to move forward. They are ready to evaluate potential donors and have stressed to me to do what I can to spread the word and help them to find a donor for me.
As I had mentioned and posted around the time of the original transplant surgery, I was floored by the response from people who came forward and offered to be tested to be a donor. At the time, I really did not know if anyone would volunteer, but when I heard about the number of people that offered and were tested, I was humbled and so very grateful. So now, once again, I find myself reaching out to you- my friends, my family, my colleagues and acquaintances- to spread the word and share my story with those in your circles.
So as I now go "back to the future", I am filled with hope that we will find a donor, confident in the doctors and staff at The Mayo Clinic, and I look forward to the end of the long, long journey to regain my health knowing that it is within my reach.