I was on dialysis for about a year and a half before I decided I wanted to go on the transplant waiting list. I had felt extremely guilty because of what I had done with my last transplant. I finally told my doctor at Group Health that I wanted to go on the list, but he kept making excuses and stalling. He sent me for an EKG and that was it. I was 23 now and I had been kicked off my dad's insurance so I was free to go anywhere I wanted to. I finally got tired of the doctor stalling and not being straight with me. I called my social worker at the kidney center and got a referral. That was when I switched to Swedish Hospital and Medical Center. I told my new nephrologist everything that I had done with my previous kidney. She still agreed to send me to the transplant clinic.
I met with the transplant team at the Swedish Organ Transplant Clinic which included three surgeons, several nurses, my nephrologist and her partners. I told them about how I had lost my last kidney. I also told them why I had waited so long to get on the list. I had learned a very hard lesson. The transplant team agreed to put me on the waiting list. They gave me a pager so they could get a hold of me if a kidney became available for me.
Before I was ready to receive a transplant I received several calls. But I had several teeth that needed to be fixed and one that was abscessed and had to be pulled. I went to the hospital for one, but I could not get it because my white blood count was too high. That means I had an infection of some kind at the time. I found out later it was dental and having the tooth pulled took care of it.
I had been trying to go back to school for so long that I finally decided to get my GED. I went and took the tests at a local community college. I still wasn't driving so I rode to the college with Stacy, who was registering for classes. I passed all my tests the first time around above average. The certificate was issued on October 18, 1996. That was the same day I received my third transplant. It was a six antigen perfect match. I was shocked when I woke up and the door was wide open. I had to call the nurse to make sure it was supposed to be opened. After all, with my first two, the door had to be shut and all visitors had to wear and mask and gown.
When the transplant team came in I asked them if the door was really supposed to be opened. They said yes and then explained that they were now more worried about what was inside the patient. I had to take a lot of pills. Many of them were antibiotics and many of them were vitamins and anti rejection medications. There were so many that I cannot remember what they all were anymore. All new transplant patients were given a 3-ring binder with a checklist for all my medications and also papers to keep track of my lab work and other stuff pertaining to the transplant. And also a 7 day pill container with removable one day containers. The medications I do remember are; Cellcept which is an anti rejection drug, Prednisone is also used as an anti rejection drug, Prograf or FK506 is also an anti rejection drug and had replaced Imuran. I had to take my medications as close to the same time each day as possible. I was released after about a week.
I went into the transplant clinic every day for labs and a check up for quite a while. Then it went down to three times a week. After a few months it was dropped down to twice a week. My labs were all looking good, but I felt like there was something wrong. I did not feel bad or hurt anywhere. I just had a feeling something was wrong. I called the transplant clinic and talked to the nurse every single day. I remember one particular call where the nurse said to me, "Krisna, I don't know what to tell you. Your creatnine is better than we could ever hope for in a transplant!" They even ran blood cultures to test for bacterial infections. Nothing showed up.
I had a routine ultra sound on November 22, 1996, exactly five weeks after my transplant. The ultrasound technician had me wait while he paged the transplant surgeon. I knew when I saw both the transplant surgeons walk by me that I was not going home that day.
The surgeons came and explained to me that they saw what they thought was an aneurism in the artery to the kidney. A transplanted kidney is placed in the abdomen and is attached to the artery in the leg so that part of the blood goes to the leg and part to the kidney. The aneurism was showing up in the artery on the kidney. They also said they were going to do another test called an arteriogram to make sure. They did the test and told me that they could go in and try to fix it. One of the surgeons told me that he could use the large vein in my left leg to repair the part of the artery they would have to cut out of the kidney. John was at work so I paged him and then called my dad at work. My dad told me he would be there when I woke up. John called back just as they were starting to put me under the anesthetic. I remember telling him, "I gotta go now" in a slur.
They were able to save the kidney and it bounced back to where it had been before. I was released about a week later. Because I had staples in my leg, John, my dad and I decided I would stay at my dad's and my grandmother would come up from Kelso, Washington and help take care of me. The transplant team told me, "We should have listened to you. We're so sorry." I still felt like something was wrong with me and again they said that my labs looked fine and so did everything else.
One December 20, 1996, exactly nine weeks after my transplant I went in for another routine ultrasound and there was a what appeared to be another aneurism. This time it had been a clump of blood vessels. It did not matter anyway because when they went in to try and fix it they discovered that the kidney had become infected. The infection had spread down the the artery in my right leg about. It had made it about halfway down the upper leg. The infection had eaten away the artery. So, the surgeons were forced to remove the kidney and the infected portion of the artery. They tied the artery off to be restored later. I was devastated. I had to return to dialysis.
I blamed myself for weeks. I thought maybe I had done something wrong again. Then, I felt like I should have made them listen sooner. Eventually I realized that it was not anybody's fault. I knew it was just a fluke. I mean they test both the patient and the the organ for infection. I do not think they ever figured out the origin of the infection. I recovered physically within a few weeks. I had spent both Thanksgiving and Christmas in the hospital that year. I made it home by New Year's Day and my birthday. I was able to go back to the same kidney center. That made things a little easier for me.