Kidney Disease: A Family Matter

May 29, 2018, 4:44pm EDT

Jordan Murphy is the first to admit that she’s probably visited the doctor more than anyone else she knows. The 20-year-old, full-time Virginia Tech junior never misses an appointment either. Three close members of Jordan’s family have suffered from chronic kidney disease: two aunts, who both had multiple kidney transplants, as well as a paternal grandmother. Both Jordan and her cousins get their kidneys tested regularly and make sure to monitor their health. “I didn’t realize how many people have kidney disease,” says Jordan, “It’s shocking to know that there are so many out there and need help.”
Jordan knew about the life-altering disease for as long as she can remember. Her mother’s sister, Angelia, was born with membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis, a rare type of disease that causes kidney inflammation. Being so close to a family member who suffered from the disease gave her an up-close perspective on how important staying on top of her health was. Her own mother grew up taking care of Angelia, often taking her under her wing to help her live “as normal as a life as possible.”
But normal was hard to maintain. Jordan’s mom and aunt moved around during their childhood, switching back and forth between West Virginia and South Carolina. Each time, the family had to look for the right medical professionals to help Angelia. But her aunt never complained. “The best thing about my aunt is she is the most positive person.” says Jordan, “Her outlook on life is incredible.”
After two decades of dealing with kidney disease, Angelia received the gift of life – a new kidney – from her own mother, Jordan’s maternal grandmother. Finally, she could live a life that did not revolve around constant medical visits or check-ups. Angelia took her newfound gift and transformed it into a life of giving to others. She spent her time generously giving back to others through her work as a nurse anesthetist at a West Virginia nursing home and taking special care over her son, Gabe, Jordan’s cousin and close friend.
It wasn’t until around the time that Jordan’s aunt turned 45-years-old that her new kidney started to fail. While some would have given up, Angelia reserved a positive mindset that was infectious to her family and friends. It took her just over two years to get back on the donor list and receive a new kidney through a kidney transplant.
On November 13, 2016, Jordan’s aunt successful received a kidney. Jordan and her family have come out of their experience with a renewed perspective on the disease. “It’s a reminder [for me] to make sure I’m taking care of myself – especially my kidneys. My aunt is my role model. I don’t think I would have grown up the way I did without going through this with her and the rest of my family.”