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Julia Browning Devine- Kidney Recipient

I was diagnosed with PKD (Polycystic Kidney) at the age of 15, after an appointment with an Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist it was discovered that I had extremely high blood pressure. Considering I did not have any prior medical history and was a very active teen, I was referred to my family doctor and a Urologist for further testing, in which it was discovered that I had PKD. I was referred to a Nephrologist who confirmed the diagnosis and discussed a treatment plan and given a detailed explanation of PKD. I was told early on that my disease would unfortunately lead to kidney failure and a transplant possibly within 5-7 years. I managed to prolong the need for a transplant for nearly 18 years by controlling my blood pressure with medication, but not without complications due to ongoing infections and rupturing cysts in my kidneys due to the disease. In May, 2003 my GFR had reached 15 percent and my doctor started the transplant process. I was listed by the end of May and in November, 2003 (6months later) I received my call for a kidney and was transplanted. The surgery was a success and I recovered well.

In 2008, I started showing signs of acute rejection due to infection, which was able to be treated, but I continued to have periodic infections. In 2009, my health took another blow, after suffering for a month with severe headaches, dizziness and nausea, an MRI discovered that I had a brain tumor in the left temple area called a Dermoid Teratoma. I had brain surgery in July, 2009, my recovery went well, thankfully it was benign, but I was concerned about the effect it had on my kidney. In 2010, signs of rejection returned, which soon became chronic. My nephrologist told me in December, 2010 it was unlikely my kidney would last another year so he began the process to re-list me for a 2nd kidney and discussed dialysis options as it was unlikely I would be able to avoid it this time. In May,2011 after awaking short of breath, I was taken to the ER where the doctor discovered my kidney had failed. I was transported to a hospital in Louisville, Kentucky and underwent emergency dialysis and eventually a nephrectomy of my transplanted kidney. After my release, I continued my treatments for 3 days a week for over 3 hours each day.

By November, 2011, I was re-listed to receive a 2nd kidney and in February, 2012, I underwent a 2nd nephrectomy to remove my native kidneys to avoid possible infection in those kidneys to affect the new kidney I hoped to soon receive. I remained infection free and on August 26, 2014, and doing dialysis for over 3 years I received a call for my 2nd gift. After blood test and cross-matching, I was told by the surgeon I was the perfect match and underwent a 2nd kidney transplant.

Today, I am over 5 months post transplant and I am doing extremely well, my creatinine has remained consistent at 0.9 since surgery which is perfect and all other labs have been great as well, all in range! I decided a few months prior to surgery that I was going to name this kidney “Francis” after Pope Francis, it certainly has caught on with everyone, hardly a day goes by that I don’t get asked “How is Francis doing?” Francis and I are doing great šŸ™‚

I encourage everyone to please consider being an organ donor, it truly saves/changes lives. I am beyond blessed, because I have been fortunate enough to experience it twice and it is such a gift!

For all of those in waiting, I pray you receive your gift soon šŸ™‚