Just Frances

Made with 100% pure awesomeness.

The gift of life

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 29th, 2010 by Frances Ryan.
Tags: pkd, health, friends, family, faith

My aunt received a new(ish) kidney today, courtesy of a very dear friend of the family. (We’ve always said that Jeanne was part of the family—and now she really and truly is!) My aunt was the third family member to receive a kidney transplant. The first was my uncle, who received a kidney from another uncle in March 2002. The second was my mom, who received a kidney from a ‘cadaver donor’ in September 2006. In all three cases, the new kidney means a new lease on life—a chance to live free of dialysis.

But why all the transplants? Because my family has been affected by Polycystic Kidney Disease—one of the most common life-threatening genetic diseases. It affects approximately 1 in every 500 people. It does not skip a generation and parents with the disease have a 50 percent chance of passing the disease on to each of their children.

Over time, the number and size of the cysts will increase, along with the size of the kidneys. Whilst a normal, healthy kidney is the size of a fist, a PKD-riddled kidney can grow to the size of a football, weighing several pounds.

There is no cure. But with proper diet, exercise, and care (including the ever-important issue of keeping blood pressure low) the progression of the disease can be slowed. Ultimately, someone with PKD will need dialysis and/or a transplant at some point.

Four of my parents’ six daughters have the condition—including me. And the next generation of my family is also affected by it. And the odds are that the one after that will be affected, too.

I won’t get on my soapbox about organ donation, because if you know me, you already know my views. But I encourage you to learn as much about organ, tissue, and blood donation as you can and make an informed decision as to if it is right for you. And be certain to let your next-of-kin know your wishes, because they will ultimately make the decision for you should you die.

For more information on becoming a donor please visit the Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation service in the USA or the NHS Blood and Transplant service in the UK.

But, back to my aunt and the amazing Jeanne. The entire family is so pleased that such a wonderful woman has done such a wonderful thing. I know that my teenaged cousins are pleased to know that their mom will be up and running around with the vigor and excitement she once had. I know my mom will be pleased to have her sister around for years to come. And I know that everyone will always know that a woman who didn’t have to sacrifice so much did—with nothing to gain other than the knowledge that she’s given the gift of life.

Thank you, Jeanne. We all love you more than you may ever know!

And a thank you to the transplant team at the University of Washington Medical Center. I know I’m a Coug fan, but today, I’m shouting GO DAWGS!


It truly is an amazing gift from St. Jeanne & story for your family especially knowing that live donor matches are so hard to find. praying for the quick & flawless recovery of Both wonderful & brave women~

by Ramona at 7:08pm (GMT) on July 30th, 2010

Just found this from #endPKD on Twitter. I am a transplant recipient where my husband was my donor. My father got a cadaver donor kidney and my uncle, as well. My cousin found her donor from Facebook and her brother is waiting. My brother is waiting and is on peritoneal dialysis.

Thanks for your story.

by Nancy S. Brandt at 3:52am (GMT) on March 6th, 2013

Thanks for getting in touch, Nancy! How wonderful that your husband was able to be your donor. My late husband always said his kidney was mine when/if I needed it.

One of my sisters is currently on the transplant list, and we’re hoping she’s able to find a living donor soon - before she starts dialysis!

All my best to you,

by Just Frances at 8:46pm (GMT) on March 6th, 2013

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