Editor’s note: Parole Agent A.J. Ewing of Chula Vista IV needs a kidney transplant but is continuing to work. There is an urgent need in America to find more kidney donors, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Every month, more than 2,000 names are added to the national waiting list for organ transplants, the foundation reports. In his own words, here’s a question-and-answer about what Agent Ewing faces.
How long have you been on the waiting list for a kidney transplant?
I was first diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease in 2009. I was previously in the transplant evaluation process with Scripps Hospital. The evaluation process was delayed because of my weight. Since then I have actively worked on my weight and dropped 130 pounds without bariatric surgery.
The process was restarted with Scripps Hospital. Then in the middle of the process, my insurance company dropped Scripps from the list of hospitals performing kidney transplants. I had to start the process all over again with Sharp Hospital.
Fortunately for me, my nephrologist (kidney doctor) has hospital privileges with Sharp. As of Sept. 7, I am on a waiting list for a transplant.
You have dialysis three nights a week and work during the day. How hard is this for you? How does it affect your personal life, your work life?
Going to dialysis at night is hard but no where near as hard as going in the daytime. At night the process is gradually done over an eight-hour period as opposed to four hours.
When my dialysis is finished, about 5 in the morning, I can pack up my bedding and drive home without the residual fatigue I would have from the four-hour dialysis.
It’s difficult to be away from my family so many nights a week, but it doesn’t compare to the consequences of not having dialysis and my family having to live without me.
It is really hard, as my life is regulated by my dialysis days – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Everything has to be planned around those days.
Even my workouts have to be modified because even though I do not have any major fatigue immediately after dialysis, working out afterwards becomes very tiring. At that point, I have to stop and rest.
I have since modified my workouts after dialysis to just Tai Chi, and push-ups. On dialysis mornings I get to have a regular workout at the gym and I can push as hard as I can.
I am not going to allow this disease to get the best of me. I have never quit on anything in my life, and I am not going to start now.
My going to dialysis affects my personal life because if I decide to go on vacation, I have to locate a dialysis clinic near the vacation location, and there is no guarantee that I would be able to secure placement at the clinic. Weekend trips cannot start before 5 in the morning because of dialysis, and I have to make sure I get back in time to get back to the clinic.
My work life is limited because I cannot do home calls late at night on my dialysis days, but on off nights I am able to work late. But I do get everything I need to accomplish completed. It just takes a little imagination combined with determination.
Why did you decide to go public with your need?
Not too long ago, my doctor suggested that I make an appeal for a live kidney donor on Facebook. When I saw the successful kidney transplant stories in the OPEC, I decided to pursue this course of action.
My doctor suggested that my wife make the appeal on Facebook. The doctor said the further removed I am from the appeal the better. But I am taking the initiative because I am the one in need of a kidney.
It took me a long time to be able to ask for assistance, because I am the type of person who feels that he can do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission, but I had to learn the hard way that sometimes a person has to put pride aside and ask others for assistance. This disease has taken a lot from me, but my faith, my wife and my family have kept me going.
And I always thank God for giving me another day, every day I open my eyes.
If anyone feels they could consider helping me with this transplant option, please call Lupita Gomez, Transplant Coordinator at Sharp Hospital: (858) 650-5015 or email her at: Lupita.Gomez@sharp.com.
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