Jessica’s Personal Story

Jessicas Personal Story:

Early in 2012, my mother and I found out I was in end- stage renal failure, after I started having severe backaches. After going through many tests with our family doctor, my mother and I were informed that I would need a kidney transplant, or I would have to start dialysis soon. I was 10 years old at the time, and I became very scared knowing soon I would have to have a port for dialysis surgically placed in my arm or chest, so I could receive a dialysis treatment 3 times per week. At that time, there were no pediatric centers for dialysis near our city, so my mom would have to drive me almost 100 miles for treatment three times per week. I was already starting to miss a lot of school days feeling sick, which gave me to much time to think about what I would be going through soon, if I was not approved to enter a transplant program, I would be on dialysis, and miss to much school to move past 4th grade. It is a lot for a 10-year-old mind to handle, but I am lucky to have such a caring mother, family members, and good friends who all kept my spirits up

Little did I know my mother was desperate to find me a living kidney donor, as she could not bear the thought of losing me. She knew if I received a kidney from a living person, I had a better chance of not rejecting it and that a living kidney has an average life span of almost three times of a kidney from a deceased person. So, in September 2012, my mom decided one day to make a sign on a big pink piece of construction paper, and she went to the busiest corner in our town. She stood there for hours, the sign saying-Help Please, “My Daughter Needs A Kidney, She’s 10 Years Old, I Cannot Lose Her”. She received many offers, but no amount of money could buy a kidney; it must be given freely. Her effort gained the attention of our local newspaper and Tv station. We had no idea that a man who had called us about two days after the stories appeared would get tested to see if he was a match for me. It was not until the day before Thanksgiving that we were notified that my mother’s effort had found my hero. Mom and I screamed so loud that Brian should have heard us, as at the time, we only lived four blocks apart but had never met. Brian, my mom, and I were introduced in December by a former CNN reporter who wanted to record a short documentary on kidney donation. Then on January 10th, 2013, Brian, mom, and I rode together in a donated limousine to the University of Michigan Transplant Center, and the next day Brian’s kidney was removed in the main hospital and brought over to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, where my surgical team placed his kidney into my stomach pouch- that’s where donated kidneys go. The kidney, which was now mine, immediately started to function, and two days later, Brian was wheeled over to see me, and we were reunited. I was now full of color, I could eat all of the foods that had been restricted from my diet, and I could go home within 6 days. Brian and I both made full recoveries, and because of his donation which in the end saved my life, I am now 20 years old, healthy, in college at Eastern Michigan University, and serving on the board of directors for Kidneys For Kids, the non- profit Brian started this year. Please support Brian’s upcoming 48 state-50 city journey,so 100 more kids may receive kidneys in 2023!  Thank you all!!

Jessica Schwerin

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