Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Nephrology Archive

Keeping a Positive Outlook Despite a Difficult Disease

Posted on February 19th, 2014 by mayoclinic

Jayne BushmanFor her first 38 years, Jayne Bushman was a picture of health. But then one morning she woke up with an earache, something she says she'd never before experienced. Her first stop was to see her Family Medicine doctor at Mayo Clinic in Rochester who, unable to pinpoint the exact cause of her pain, sent her to Mayo's Department of Otorhinolaryngology. It was there that after a series of additional tests and examinations, Bushman learned she had much more than and ear infection. The diagnosis was Wegener's granulomatosis, a rare disorder that inflames the blood vessels and restricts blood flow to various internal organs.

The ear issues were simply one manifestation of the disease, which often affects the kidneys, lungs and upper respiratory tract. The restricted blood flow caused by the disease can damage these organs.

As Bushman listened to doctors explain her diagnosis, she says she felt "shocked." That only got worse after she went home and began using the Internet to research her disease. "The very first thing I did after my diagnosis is what a lot of people do, which is the very wrong thing," she says. "And I now tell any person I meet or talk to online who gets diagnosed with Wegener's disease to stay off the Internet. It'll do nothing but scare you. That's exactly what it did to me."

Still, Bushman says she only allowed herself to feel that way for a moment or two. "Initially, it was a huge shock," she says. "But I had three kids at home, I have a career … and I sure as heck wasn't going to let this get in the way of that. I've always tried to not live in my disease and to instead live with my disease.” Read the rest of this entry »

Boo Maddox takes on H1N1, dialysis, and complications on his way to a successful kidney transplant

Posted on December 12th, 2013 by mayoclinic

Boo Maddox

A year ago, the Robert Maddox family from Boyce, La., would never have imagined attending the 50th Anniversary of Kidney Transplantation celebration event at Mayo Clinic this month. A year ago, their 9-year-old son Robert, who goes by the nickname "Boo," was struggling to survive, and a transplant seemed impossible.

After a devastating bout of H1N1 (swine flu) in 2009 when he was just 5 years old, Boo spent nearly 500 days in Children’s Hospital of New Orleans. After multiple surgeries, numerous transfusions, and months of uncertainty, he recovered and survived despite the odds. But he was left with renal failure, dangerously high pulmonary pressure, and susceptibility for recurring infections. Doctors told the family that he would never be a candidate for a transplant, and was destined for a life of dialysis and complications from the high pressure and infections.

Determined to find hope, Robert and Renee Maddox brought their son to Mayo Clinic last winter and met with the kidney transplant team. Read the rest of this entry »

Identical Twins Share Genetic Makeup, and a Kidney

Posted on November 25th, 2013 by mayoclinic

When Ernesto Boleaga learned that he needed a kidney transplant, the perfect donor, his identical twin brother, Jose Luis, was ready and willing to help. And because the Boleagas have the same genetic make-up, Ernesto’s body accepted Jose Luis’ kidney as its own.

For most patients, however, an identical twin donor isn’t an option, and they need to take medication to suppress their immune system so the body doesn't reject their new kidney. Doctors at Mayo Clinic want to change that.

The video below shows the Boleaga’s story and how Mayo Clinic physicians are researching ways to grow organs from a patient’s own stem cells. It's called regenerative medicine, and it offers hope for a solution to organ rejection.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Decision to Save a Stranger’s Life

Posted on November 20th, 2013 by mayoclinic

A patient in need of transplant touches Dr. Phil Fischer's heart and prompts him to explore living donation. As a result, a patient in need of a kidney lives on, enjoying her grandchildren, golfing and dancing.  

The shortage of deceased donor organs has reached a crisis, with almost 120,000 people in need of a lifesaving organ nationwide. More than 3,000 of those people are Mayo Clinic patients. But for kidney, liver and bone marrow transplant patients, living donors can help shorten the wait time.

A recent survey found that nearly half of Americans would consider donating to a complete stranger — a statistic that has more than doubled in the past decade. It is becoming increasingly common for people to donate to family, friends and even strangers, so one of the 120,000 people on the wait list can receive the gift of renewed life.

One such donor is Phil Fischer, M.D., a pediatric and adolescent medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Children’s Center. In this video interview, Dr. Fischer tells how a patient in need of a kidney transplant touched his heart and prompted him to explore anonymous living donation, sometimes referred to as good Samaritan, non-directed or altruistic donation. Dr. Fischer’s selfless act of donation enabled a woman in need of a kidney to live a full life, enjoying her grandchildren and dancing.  Read the rest of this entry »

Sister’s Kidney for Little Brother

Posted on November 11th, 2013 by mayoclinic

For his entire life, radio host James Rabe has known that one day he'd need a new kidney. A disease called Alport Syndrome slowly caused his kidneys to fail. As his condition advanced, the search for a new organ began. His big sister stepped up and gave part of herself so her little brother could live. They share their story in the video below.

While the outcomes for transplant patients who receive deceased donor organs are very good, transplants performed from living donors, like the gift given to James by his sister, can have several advantages. Read the rest of this entry »

Five Years on the Transplant List and the Perfect Match

Posted on July 23rd, 2013 by mayoclinic

Chuck Jorud had lived with type 1 diabetes for more than 20 years when his kidneys declared, “enough.” He started dialysis and was evaluated for a kidney transplant.

“I had young kids at the time and decided that if I was going to have a transplant, I wanted the best,” says Chuck. That led him to Mayo Clinic, where Thomas Schwab, M.D., a nephrologist, suggested he consider a combined kidney-pancreas transplant, which held the promise of a diabetes-free life.

“I was blown off my feet. I didn’t even know that existed,” says Chuck, who was placed on the transplant list. And though it likely meant a much longer wait, he decided only to accept organs that were a perfect six out of six antigen match. Read the rest of this entry »

Jill Morton: Going for the Gold

Posted on July 27th, 2011 by Susana Shephard

Jill Morton playing tennis

Eight years ago, Jill Morton was dying. A family history of kidney disease had finally caught up with her. Her kidneys were failing, and her body was shutting down.

"I was really afraid," she says.

For two long years, Morton, of Boca Raton, Fla., lived with that fear -- her name on the transplant list and a beeper always at hand -- waiting for that moment when a match might suddenly become available. Read the rest of this entry »

New friendship cemented with kidney donation

Posted on May 25th, 2011 by Stacy Theobald

Melissa Blevins and Risa Simon

Melissa Blevins, administrator for the Transplant Center and Living Donor Programs at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Arizona, knew that one day she’d be an organ donor.

Her epiphany occurred 15 years ago. She was working as nurse transplant coordinator and, one night, two pediatric patients died. “One needed a transplant. The parents of the other ill child hadn’t given donation consent,” she says. “The death of the baby who needed a transplant seemed so unnecessary.”

That night, Blevins says she became an ardent organ donation proponent. In 2010, Blevins became a donor. The catalyst and recipient was Risa Simon, a consultant and professional speaker who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Marathon of Another Kind: Kidney Dialysis for 13 Months

Posted on May 2nd, 2011 by Lynn Closway

Nichole and Isaac Ruston and kids Max and Mia

Nichole and Isaac Ruston and kids Max, left, and Mia, right.

It was the summer of 2008, and Nichole Rushton was primed and ready to run 26.2 miles – a marathon – something she had accomplished with relative ease twice before. At age 28, she well could have invented the concept of “multitasking,” keeping physically active, raising two kids and being a devoted wife to her husband, Isaac.

But, felled by an uncharacteristic sore throat, she had to sit out the marathon. Strep throat was the initial diagnosis, and then “mono” – until she deteriorated to the point where her kidneys went into stress mode. Diagnosis: Acute kidney failure. Further tests revealed vasculitis, an inflammation of the red blood cells. Then Nichole experienced a severe life-altering seizure, witnessed by a frightened, yet composed Isaac, which landed Nichole at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Arizona.

“I went from the treadmill to a hospital bed,” Nichole laments.

It was at Mayo Clinic that she heard words that rocked her world. Nichole would have to be on kidney dialysis for the rest of her life – unless she qualified to have a kidney transplant.

Read the rest of this entry »