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Kidney-Pancreas Transplant: Adriana's Story

"I was blessed the minute I walked into the hospital for the evaluation, but nothing has made me feel as proud of myself and this second chance than having gone through it first so that I now have the opportunity help someone else.”

- Adriana, who underwent a kidney-pancreas transplant at UW Hospital in 2004.

 

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Adriana, pictured below, underwent a kidney-pancreas transplant at UW Hospital in 2004.
 
Adriana underwent a kidney-pancreas transplant at UW Hospital in 2004.“Since my childhood, I have always been drawn to stories celebrating human strength, especially ones about survival and obtaining a second lease on life. The people affected by these situations always seem to come out the other end wanting to pursue and achieve greater goals than they originally set for themselves. I became an organ donor as soon as I was old enough to get my driver's license, partly due to those inspiring tales.
 
“I was diagnosed with type I diabetes at age 10. My error was never once acknowledging how serious the condition could become if I ignored or abused it. I acted like every non-diabetic human being I surrounded myself with and continued to do so until it was too late.
 
"I had several warning signs prior to this, including neuropathy and diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic comas and ketoacidosis were also part of my past. However, I did what most people do with their old cars when they give you trouble but don't want to trade them in for a new one just yet. I fixed the immediate concern and waited until the next repair job became painfully apparent.

“I was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure in February 2004. I was advised by my doctors that I needed to go on dialysis immediately and be evaluated for a kidney-pancreas transplant as soon as possible. I had fistula surgery in March, and on April 21 began my first treatment. In Florida, my home state, my insurance company would only cover kidney transplants, but not kidney/pancreas transplantation.
 
“I was evaluated at UW Hospital and Clinics in June and was placed on the transplant list in July. I was called not once but twice in August. The first time, it was too late to catch a flight out of Miami, so I was prepared to sit and wait awhile since I felt I had missed my chance. I was called again two days later.

“It has been three years and I have had no problems with my new organs. I am healthier than most people I know and all I have to show is a very thin but long scar on my tummy. I have also been blessed in learning about my donor and communicating with my donor's family.

“My goal for the last four months has been lending support to a very close girlfriend of mine. She has been diagnosed with lung cancer and she looks to me for emotional support as she was witness to my story from day one. I was blessed the minute I walked into the hospital for the evaluation, but nothing has made me feel as proud of myself and this second chance than having gone through it first so that I now have the opportunity help someone else.”