The day – Mystical doctor grateful for kidney transplant
Mystique – When Dr Daniella Duke received a phone call late in the evening in May from a number she didn’t know, she initially thought it was an unwanted call.
But she found it was actually a call she had hoped for: a transplant center telling her that a kidney was potentially available for her.
Duke packed her bags, got in the car, and at 6:00 am the next morning, she was in surgery for a kidney transplant.
The experience was a whirlwind of emotions for Duke, who had been seeking kidney donation for several years and closed his dermatology practice two years ago. She said she felt extremely grateful for having had another chance at life.
“I appreciate the feeling of not having a huge weight to carry that I don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Duke. “I feel like I have hope for a future, to be able to do the things I want to do.”
This includes going for walks, visiting her children, who are 25-year-old twins, and learning to play golf with her husband.
Duke, 57, who was diagnosed with kidney disease as a child, received his first kidney transplant 21 years ago when his kidneys had become completely failing. The transplant was a living donation from her sister.
Duke, who was 36 at the time, said her life was just beginning: she had just graduated, opened her practice, got married and had 4-year-old twins, and the family was building their house.
The transplant went well and Duke said she was lucky to have been able to move on with her life and to have a kidney that has lasted all these years.
Then, three years ago, Duke, who is undergoing immunosuppression treatment to prevent the body from rejecting the transplant, had a blood infection, which injured the transplanted kidney, she said. In recent years, his kidney function has deteriorated.
She said she knew she was headed either for dialysis or another transplant, so she closed her dermatology practice two years ago.
She started looking for a living donor, and although two people stepped up to help, there was a problem with both of their medical evaluations and they were unable to donate, she said.
Despite being a private person, Duke began sharing her story on social media in hopes of finding a living donor. She said she was overwhelmed with the support she received, and it made her realize that people really want to help.
She had just started telling her story when she received the call that a kidney was potentially available to her from a deceased donor.
Duke said she has been on the national registry for matching organs from deceased donors since January, but did not expect a transplant from a deceased donor because she knew the average wait time was five to seven years old.
The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which is in charge of the list, has a system for matching organ donors with potential recipients, according to its website.
Duke said “it was crazy luck” that she received the kidney transplant. The kidney donor had the AB blood group, which is the same as Duke’s but rare, reducing the possible number of recipients. The kidney also became available over the weekend, when some transplant centers do not perform surgeries. The organs were transported on a charter flight from the Midwest because Yale-New Haven Hospital was able to staff two full surgical teams by 6 a.m. the next morning.
When her family and friends learned that she had received the transplant, they started to cry.
Duke said she realizes she is “one of the lucky ones” and now plans to raise awareness about organ donation from living and deceased donors and how transplants save lives. .
According to statistics from Donate Life America, 80% of people on the National Organ Transplant List are waiting for a kidney transplant and 12% of people are waiting for a liver transplant.
About 8,000 people die each year while waiting on the list – or about 22 people a day, according to the organization.
Duke said a kidney transplant is not a cure for kidney failure, but it can improve the quality and length of life for a person with end-stage kidney disease.
She hopes to volunteer with New England Donor Services, an organ procurement organization, which also raises awareness about organ donation and how people can sign up to be a donor.
“I think someone like me who has had two transplants can help people understand how important it is to just consider it,” she said.
She said people can register as an organ donor in the event of death, when they renew their driver’s license. They can also register and get more information by visiting Donatelife.net or Registerme.org.
Duke, who began working with glass during the pandemic, enjoys creating stained glass windows and mosaics.
In the back of her mind, she said, she still thinks that if she’s healthy enough, she could go back to work part-time for someone else, or it’s always a possibility to open up. her dermatology practice again, but she’s focused on giving herself the time she needs to heal.
Duke recently went for a walk with a friend who noticed that Duke was walking much faster than before the transplant. While still healing, Duke said she was able to do a few more movements each day and her new kidney was getting better and better.
After following a very restrictive diet, she can again eat the foods she likes and drink as much fluids as she wants. She can’t wait to do more and more of the activities she enjoys, from exploring the water on a small inflatable boat to playing tennis.
“I feel very grateful, happy and hopeful,” she said. “I’m in a really good position and I feel stronger and stronger every day.”