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Jewish Tulsan Receives Kidney After Reconnecting with Childhood Friend

by Belinda Ball

As some of you may know, I battled chronic kidney disease for most of my life, having been born with one horseshoe shaped kidney. By age three, I’d had multiple surgeries. For the last five years, I have been in end-stage renal failure and told my only chance for to live was to have a kidney transplant. Who knew that I would find a match for a new kidney through Facebook!

Tim was excluded in final testing after being previously deemed a “perfect match.” I was told, due to my petite stature that I needed a pediatric kidney which trans-lates to years (if at all) of waiting since pediatric kidneys are usually ONLY for pediatric patients. Integris’ view was opposite. This was a test of faith, and despite this outlook, Tim and I prayed and continued to be hopeful. Integris Baptist Nazih Zuhdi Transplant Center soon became our choice. We attended Patient Orientation. The nurses, surgeons, nephrologists and pharmacists were all positive. We were Integris bound.

When I reunited with my elemen-tary, middle and high school best friend, Claudia Bucklin Smith through Facebook, it had been 36 years since Claudia and I had last spoken. My first phone call, from Claudia was April 10, 2015. As you can imagine, our conversation was quite lengthy, 6.5 hours. We had 36 years to talk about!
We soon discovered that Claudia was a match to be a potential kidney donor for me, but she had obstacles to overcome. She needed to lose a tad of weight and had a hip issue. She had the mindset to pause and called Integris. They advised her it could compromise her kidney function. Claudia was determined I would receive her kidney, so she sought out a Sports Therapist. Now, Claudia could exercise without pain. This is the very definition of a very true and dedicated friend.

We met September 28–29, 2015, for Claudia’s final testing in Oklahoma City. This was the first time we had seen each other in 36 years. The emotional moment, as well as excitement for all the final tests was in the air. I was her cheerleader, accompanying her to each and every test which she passed with flying colors!
Each step, edged us closer to transplant. At the same time, we struggled with the costs of frequent doctor visits, labs, and with avoiding dialysis. The next step was getting transplanted by year’s end. Claudia stepped up once again and made it a reality on December 21, 2015, at Integris Baptist Nazih Zuhdi Transplant Center.

I am now in my 15th month of recovery. Words cannot ever express my gratitude of receiving the ‘Gift Of Life’ from my child-hood friend. Prior to transplant, my life consisted of weekly lab work and visits back and forth to Oklahoma City. Now, I’ve gradu-ated to visits every four months to OKC and every two months for lab work. I will be on anti-rejection medications for the rest of my life and will be followed closely for the next 3-5 years.

Unfortunately surgery, in the midst of my recovery from transplant, something has gone awry with my digestive system. I am currently undergoing tests in Houston at the Ertan Herman Memorial Digestive Disease Center. All of this comes at a great expense. The costs have been devastating, truly more than we can afford, and we continue a balancing act of specialists, with the costs of transportation, testing, hotels, and everything asso-ciated with out-of-state health care. However, we continue to be hopeful that we will find a solution, so that I can truly revel in God’s light. We are looking forward to a healthy 2017 and beyond and hope our lives to continue to be filled with refuyah and continued Healing! ■

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