Kidney Transplant: Cindy's Story
Cindy (pictured) received a kidney transplant at UW Hospital and Clinics in 2008.
As a registered nurse Cindy Bell spent her life caring for others. She had no idea that in the winter of 2007 she would face her own health crisis, kidney failure.
Bell was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease that had been destroying her kidneys; she had about 10 percent kidney function. Bell was placed on four regional transplant lists and she waited for a call, one that doctors said could take three to seven years.
Bell continued working in a management position, but in December of 2007, she was forced to begin dialysis treatments. Her week consisted of eight-hour workdays and then three times a week she would endure four hours of dialysis. She had to learn to deal with nausea, fatigue, itching, exhaustion, weight loss and depression during her dialysis, and was hospitalized many times for life-threatening conditions.
Bell is blood type O positive, making her search for a living donor even more difficult. Bell remembers feeling alone and thinking, "Is anyone out there? Does anybody care?"
On August 31, 2008, after three years on the transplant list, Bell received word that a kidney that would be a good match for her had been donated by the family of a 14-year-old girl who had passed away. The next day Bell received her transplant at UW Hospital and Clinics.
Every day Bell is thankful for that donation and the gift of life it brought her. Although a transplant can be difficult - she has to take 30 pills per day - Bell never takes the donation for granted.
Now Bell urges others to consider living donation. She believes that we each have two kidneys because "there is one kidney to keep and one to give away to a person in need."
She also urges everyone, particularly those not interested in living donation, to put the dot on their license, and tell their family and friends they support donation.
"Please don't take those precious gems called organs with you," said Bell.