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A Matter of Time: Teresita gets Kidney Transplant before Dialysis Reality

A Matter of Time:  Teresita gets Kidney Transplant before Dialysis Reality

A few weeks before total kidney failure and her birthday, Teresita Dalson Wilson got her best birthday gift ever, a kidney from her son. With a kidney transplant the 60 year old wife and mother of three received a better quality of life.

Teresita is the first patient of the St. Maarten Medical Center to get a kidney transplant, before having started dialysis. In most cases, dialysis is the end stage of kidney failure. Teresita came to the SMMC as a pre-dialysis patient with low kidneys function.

Pre-dialysis patients are persons who are diagnosed with a kidney disease but have not yet start dialysis treatment. Within a short time, dialysis treatment may eventually become the best health option for the patient. Being diagnosed with a kidney disease is never a pleasant circumstance. Pre-dialysis patients are however, more informed and have the opportunity to better manage their health and prepare for the drastic life changes that comes with hemodialysis in comparison to patients who had no prior knowledge of a kidney disease and suddenly become ill and immediately on dialysis treatment.

Even before being diagnosed with a kidney disease, Teresita knew that something was terribly wrong. She was becoming more and more ill; she could not keep food down and her feet were often swollen. She was often very tired and could not sleep throughout the night. When medications proved no help, she was referred to a specialist in Curacao who later diagnosed her with kidney failure after a biopsy and other examinations.

In St. Maarten, after her diagnosis, Teresita’s family doctor advised her to visit the dialysis department to get a better understanding of what life changes she can expect when hemodialysis would become a reality.

“When I got to the hospital, I cried and cried and cried,” said Teresita. “Just then a nurse came out and called me by my name. I had never met her before, but my doctor had already informed her that I would be coming. She sat and asked me why I was crying and I told her I did not want to go on the machine. She then told me that it was a matter of life or death, dialysis would help me live a day longer.”

Better composed, Teresita returned the following day to begin a monthly medication that would slow down her kidney failure. Seeing the patients on the machine was ‘devastating’. “I did not want that for me,” said Teresita. However, in the meantime, she returned to Curacao for surgery to get a shunt. In the event that dialysis would be necessary, the shunt would be an access line for hemodialysis instead of an emergency catheter via the neck, which can be painful for a patient.

A few months after, Teresita and her daughter attended a Kidney Transplant Information Session organized by the SMMC Dialysis and Social Work Departments. The session gave patients, their friends and family, medical insurances and other health care provider’s information about the possibilities for patients to receive a kidney transplant from a living donor.

Teresita’s family decided to pursue this option and started the coordination with the SMMC Kidney Transplant coordination team and SZV when her son, Benedict Henry, proved to be match. The process took some time but “Nurse Georgina was always on top of things,” said Teresita. “She would call and remind me that I had to do a test or visit a doctor.”

Teresita had her kidney transplant on August 7, 2014 at the Erasmuc MC. She was discharged a little more than two weeks after the surgery, one day before her 60th birthday.

“The process was hectic, I had a lot of medical tests to do in St. Maarten. When I went to Holland I had to do them all over again as protocol. But the hassle is worth it. I would advise anyone with kidney failure to do a kidney transplant with a living donor. The chances are better than with a transplant from a deceased donor. It is not easy but it is gives a better quality of life. Even though I have diabetes it was still possible for me to get a kidney. One doctor told me that with diabetes a kidney transplant may not be successful. But I got it! My coordination team and doctors knew what they were doing for me.”

Teresita spent nine months in Holland during the last stage of the process. “I am glad with the care they gave me, all my doctors in Holland, the Kidney transplant coordination team, especially Nurse Georgina and my family doctor, Dr. Swanston.”

After a kidney transplant it is important to follow medication. Teresita has the support of her family and her husband Owen Dalson who is her nurse at home, ensuring she takes her medication, eat the right foods and maintain her weight.

“Life has changed a lot for me, I have not returned to work, I am taking a lot of medication and keeping up with doctors’ visits, but I am happy. My kidney is doing well. I feel much better and I can now sleep at night. I hope that this will be possible for other patients who have not yet begun dialysis, it is the best option there is.”

In photo: Teresita Dalson-Wilson and her son Benedict Henry


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