By Amy Shwab
January 4th 1983 is a special day in my husband, Rick's, life. It is the day he received a kidney from his younger sister, Beth. Now, 26 years later, Rick is living a healthy, happy life.
Rick was diagnosed in high school as having "kidney problems”. Over the next few years, doctors kept an eye on things with his kidney problems, but nothing really changed. After we were engaged, things began to change. Seeking answers, we went to another facility for a second opinion and were told it could be 5-10 years before he was in end-stage renal disease. But in a mere 18 months, he would be starting dialysis 3 days a week for 5 hours each time. Rick was only 24. We had been married less than a year. For the next 6 months he went to dialysis while he continued to work.
During that time family members were tested as a possible match. Rick is one of nine children, so fortunately there were lots of possible matches. His younger sister Beth was a prefect match! She was in college at the time, but that didn't matter to Beth. She never complained about the testing, the scar, the recovery discomfort, or anything except having to remove her nail polish for surgery!
The surgeries began early in the morning on January 4th. Rick remembers them saying they were ready for the kidney and then hearing the basin "clink" on the table. The next thing he remembers was the nurse telling him the kidney was working! He and Beth both had a long day that day, but once Rick was settled into ICU, they served him a spaghetti dinner!
Rick faced many challenges over the next few years; rejection, hypertension, ulcers, multiple hospital stays, and more surgeries–but he hung in there.
Today, both Rick and Beth are doing great. Rick has lived a life he never thought possible all because of Beth and the wonders of medicine. He has been able to work, travel, and celebrate his 50th birthday and our 25th wedding anniversary, among many other things. Beth still doesn't think she did anything "special” but we all know how "special" she is.
Rick knows he owes so much to his nephrologist, Nna Medoza, too. She worked miracles with his rejection and hypertension issues. Dr. Mendoza has since retired, much to Rick's dismay. His doctor now says they are in unknown territory when it comes to his follow-up. There aren't many patients who have survived this long after a kidney transplant, so they don't know what to expect. This 26th anniversary of his transplant is the beginning of Rick living longer with the transplant than without it! That is our miracle.
Thank you Beth Stevens. Congratulations Rick Schwab!!!