At the age of 16, I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. While in college I lost 50 lbs. and mistakenly thought I no longer needed to manage my condition. I was wrong. As a result, in 2009 I was diagnosed with acute kidney failure.
My doctors told me that if I didn’t receive a kidney in two years, I’d be on dialysis and that was exactly what happened. I lost my vision from diabetic retinopathy, later regaining the vision in my left eye but never the right. As my condition worsened, I needed a below knee amputation of my right leg. Throughout these ordeals though, I remained positive and tried to inspire the many people that I came across with my words of hope.
After four years of dialysis, I received the kidney I was waiting for on July 24, 2015. When I got the call, I had been thinking I would go to dialysis and then go about my day as usual. The person on the other end of the phone asked, “Are you ready for a kidney? We have a kidney for you here at the hospital”. At that moment, it seemed so surreal, like it couldn’t be true. I actually asked her why she was joking with me. When it sunk in that this was in fact real, I just broke down.
As a way of paying it forward, I have vowed to give back after my transplant by being an advocate for health and success in general. I’m now an active volunteer with the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the National Kidney Foundation. You can give anything, but your time is so valuable.
To my donor, I want to say, “thank you”. The impact that they’ve had on my life in the two years that I’ve had my kidney, I can’t thank them enough, there are no words. The gift of life is the ultimate gift anyone can give. To allow another person to live another day, breathe another breath, see the sun again, it’s invaluable.