Going from having no symptoms to the need for an organ transplant
Guadalupe was born in Lima, Peru; in 2010, she moved to Casper, Wyoming. Guadalupe went for a routine examination for her health insurance. During the examination, they discovered that her kidney function was abnormal and that she had stage three chronic kidney disease. This was due to a genetic problem that opened the possibility of needing a kidney transplant.
In 2012 Guadalupe’s nephrologist recommended she go to a nutritionist. As her kidney function was deteriorating, her nutritionist taught her to protect her kidney through a balanced diet. Integrating exercise with a specialized personal trainer would also be useful. Lupe did everything she could to maintain and avoid a kidney transplant. These changes temporarily restored her kidney function, but unfortunately, her condition worsened. Ultimately, she needed to be added to the national transplant waiting list for a new kidney.
“A friend in Peru tried to donate her kidney to me, but there was a problem with her blood type. Then my husband also tried to donate, but he couldn’t even register because he was overweight. Finally, my sister Ana in Peru was convinced she could be my donor…”
In 2020 amid the Covid pandemic, Lupe’s sister registered to be her donor and underwent preliminary testing in Peru. Due to the contingency, they had to wait for Ana to travel to Denver, Colorado, for more compatibility tests.
“We were constantly traveling from Casper to Denver for my sister to get tested. In January 2021, we got the call to let us know my sister was a match.”
Effect on loved ones & moving forward after kidney transplant
“At the beginning, we all thought it was a disease with which nothing was going to happen, but then with the deterioration came the tension of an uncertain future. My family in Peru and Canada encouraged me to be strong and fight and encouraged our creativity with diets (my husband was very creative). Still, you could see their concern because they communicated more and more often.”
“I decided that I was going to fight because I was not willing to let myself be defeated without fighting. I decided that the disease was not going to determine how I was going to live. I decided to live on my terms. I lived daily enjoying what I had, especially being alive and not regretting the things I couldn’t do or feeling bad. Aside from dieting and exercising, I joined a Facebook support group and continued at my two jobs, one full-time and one I went to once a week. At one of my jobs, I sometimes had to go from one building to another, and because I got tired quickly, I started using the car, but then I decided that even if it took me twice as long, I would walk between buildings. There were days when I did not feel like doing anything, and my body did not give me enough energy to live a “normal” life, but I still went ahead. When I returned to the office after the transplant, some people told me I did not look sick because I always looked happy and smiling.”
Advice for those waiting for a kidney transplant
“I would tell them not to let themselves be defeated and to live day by day. The most important thing is to keep good spirits. They do not know when the call will come, enjoy being alive, follow the doctor’s instructions, and, if necessary, seek professional support. Mental health is very important because waiting is stressful. Remember that where there is life, there is hope.”
Importance to register as an organ donor
“I never thought about being an organ donor because of many things that are said, like that they will let us die because we are on the donor list, that we are too old or young to donate, etc. All of that is false. Doctors are dedicated to saving lives, and there is no age limit to donate organs. Personally, I think that when my life is over, I will no longer need my body, but I can save a life. You don’t know the emotion you feel when receiving that one phone call. I call it the second chance to live.”
Kidney transplant prevention
“I did not have dialysis, but I know it is a difficult situation. Annual medical exams are important, I would never have known about my kidney problem if I didn’t have the routine medical exam. To organ recipients, do everything the doctor says, we have been blessed with a new opportunity to live, but you have to take care of yourself, go to your doctor’s appointments, annual check-ups, and take your medications. I do all that. I also try to eat healthy, exercise, and above all, I enjoy every day of my life. I share more with my family and friends, started a new hobby, and am even learning a new language.”
“Throughout this process, I understood the importance of family, friends, and faith. A Facebook group I joined helped me by encouraging each other. A member of my group connected me with someone who had a transplant. She and I talked on the phone constantly. But I have yet to meet her in person. The people in my community are very generous and good. The hospital where I was treated told me that some people go to the hospital just to donate a kidney.”
Becoming a Donate Life Wyoming Advocate for Life
“We were in Denver for about 3 months after the transplant. When we returned to Casper, I saw on a friend’s Facebook that there was a walk to encourage organ donation, I did not participate because I still did not feel up to it, but that friend put me in contact with “Donate Life Wyoming.” I decided to join as a volunteer because, after everything I went through, I understood the importance of being a donor. It has been and continues to be an incredible experience to hear stories of love and selflessness from families of people of all ages who have donated organs and saved many lives. I plan to continue volunteering as long as I can.”
Saying Yes to Organ and Tissue Donation Saves and Heals Lives. We encourage you to get the facts, be informed, and talk about your decision with your family. To register as an organ and tissue donor, visit DonateLifeColorado.org o DonateLifeWyoming.org