Knowledge is power: One patient’s journey to transplant before dialysis

In Kidney Support Stories by The Road Back to Life

Six years ago, MaryBeth’s doctor told her she had polycystic kidney disease. PKD, a genetic disorder that causes cysts to grow in the kidneys, and often leads to kidney failure. Despite the gravity of this diagnosis, in the days and weeks that followed, MaryBeth learned everything she could about PKD, kidney failure, dialysis and how to prepare for a kidney transplant. “Gathering this information gave me some form of control over my disease and the decisions I needed to make,” she says.

MaryBeth is glad her nephrologist encouraged her to consider a kidney transplant: “I owe him a lot. If he hadn’t pushed me to apply for a transplant while my kidneys were still functioning, I probably wouldn’t have done it.” She got on the transplant list, and, using the knowledge gained in her research, worked hard to keep her kidneys as healthy as possible in order to postpone dialysis. She ate well, lost weight and exercised. She also attended classes about related health issues and became involved in Road Back to Life, a patient support organization that works with Puget Sound Kidney Centers.

In early 2014, after 17 months on the transplant waiting list, MaryBeth’s kidney function was so low she knew she would need to start dialysis soon. But then, she got the call she’d been waiting for. A kidney was available. Two years after she received the transplant, MaryBeth says, “I feel very fortunate. I’m thankful for all the educational opportunities that taught me how to keep my kidneys functioning as long as possible, and for the informed and supportive community at PSKC.”

Today, MaryBeth stays busy reading and traveling, and serves as a volunteer mentor and educator for our new Survive and Thrive with Chronic Kidney Disease education program.

Photo and story courtesy of Puget Sound Kidney Centers