Published May 23, 2019
My name is Kayla St. Pierre and I am 30 years old. I live in North Reading. I am a psychiatric nurse at McLean Hospital in Belmont. I contracted bacterial meningitis when I was 10 years old and by 12 years old, I was in kidney failure as a result. I underwent six harrowing months of dialysis and then, I was able to receive a kidney transplant from my parent, Tony. That was 17 years ago. The kidney I received from Tony has given me the opportunity to live a normal and healthy life for 17 years. I am so grateful to Tony and have always been so inspired by Tony’s gift of life.
My nephrologist recently told me that the kidney I received from Tony is failing and I will be returning to the grueling life of dialysis. My quality of life has once again become severely impacted by the symptoms of kidney failure. I am suffering from severe headaches, fatigue, anemia, and sleeping 18 hours a day. My immune system is so weak that I have been hospitalized three times in the last two months for common infections. I no longer have a time when I feel well and am very weak most of the time. This is all due to the toxins in my blood building up to dangerous levels because my kidney no longer filters them out of my body.
My best chance at resuming a healthy and normal life is to receive a kidney transplant from a living donor.
Did you know that you only need one kidney to live a long, healthy life? A kidney from a living donor works better and lasts years longer than a kidney from a deceased donor. It is truly the gift of life. Please know that having to ask for such a sacrifice is not easy for me.
I have been told the wait for a kidney from a deceased donor could be as long as 7-9 years. That is a long time to be on dialysis. I remember feeling very sick every day when I was on dialysis at 12 years old. It took up three entire days per week, resulted in several surgeries and hospitalizations, and my quality of life was poor. Dialysis is not a cure for kidney failure; it is the only way to stay alive while waiting for a kidney transplant.
This is a very scary time for me. The average life-expectancy for a patient on dialysis is only 5-10 years. In the U.S., there are 100,000 people waiting for a kidney transplant and only 18,000 people get transplanted every year. Four thousand people die each year waiting for a kidney transplant which means that 12 people die every day and one person dies every two hours.
Are you the person who would consider being tested to see if you are a match? Only a simple blood test is needed to determine if you are a match. The recovery period for donating a kidney is usually two weeks. The cost of the donor’s evaluation and surgery is covered by my insurance.
You can learn more and register for the evaluation at www.bidmc.org and search for: Living Kidney Donor.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. Please consider being tested and sharing my story with everyone you know. I know that a living donation may not be right for everyone. You can still help by bringing awareness to kidney disease and living donation. Please consider registering as an organ donor at the Registry of Motor Vehicles (online or in person) and encourage your family and friends to do so, as well.
Kayla St. Pierre