This Is My Story

Phillip with dogs at hospital

June of 2014, just after starting dialysis while in the hospital.

On June 9, 2014, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with renal failure. I say unexpectedly, because for the past six months I’d been told that the reason why I was continuously puking was because I had GERD. That started a crazy journey.

On January 20, 2015, I received the gift of life from my cousin, Alicia, who selflessly decided to be a living donor. After six+ months of dialysis, and YEARS of feeling like crap, having the new kidney was the best feeling in the world. I had energy. My wife said my color improved. I gained weight. My appetite was better. Oh, and I peed ALL. THE. TIME.

But then the BK Virus happened. Short explanation: the BK Virus is something like chicken pox or HPV that almost all of us have in our bodies, and our immune systems naturally fight off. If you’ve received a kidney transplant, though, the BK Virus can be bad. Very bad. That’s because all it does is kill transplanted kidneys. Not hearts or livers or lungs or anything else. Just kidneys. I fought it for a few months, but unfortunately in September of 2015 I lost the kidney thanks to that stupid virus.

Back on dialysis I went, and my wife and I once again began the process of getting me listed for a transplant.

The catch this time around? Because of the previous transplant and needing four blood transfusions over the past couple of years, my antibodies were incredibly high. In the kidney transplant world, there’s this thing called Panel Reactive Antibodies, which is basically a calculation of the percentage of kidneys a recipient’s body would reject due to their antibodies. Mine’s 100, which basically means I have antibodies that match to 100% of the general population, meaning it’s calculated I would reject 100% of donor kidneys.

Aubrey and Phillip on wedding day

Aubrey and me on our wedding day.

Despite having people who have been willing to donate, finding a match has been almost impossible due to various reasons (but mostly my PRA). In most cases, a family member is a best match for a living donor, but in my case (again, because of the antibodies) I will probably have better luck receiving a kidney from a complete stranger.

Waiting list times in Texas for O+ recipients are currently 4 to 5 years. And that’s for people who aren’t highly sensitized. For anyone who’s highly sensitized, that wait can be years longer. That being said, if I can find a living donor who’s a close enough match, there are options. One is paired donation. Another is desensitization, which requires a living donor.

I’m only 34, and I want to be able to spend as many years as possible with my wife. A new kidney will help me to do that.

Plus, I want to pee again.

*This website is mostly maintained and written by Aubrey.