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A Nephrologist’s Path to Resilience and Compassion – World Kidney Day 2024

Dr. Edison Souza, from Brazil, shares the heartwarming tale of Maria, a kidney transplant recipient. Maria’s journey from despair to joy, marked by the reunion with her pet dog and the selfless sacrifice for her son’s transplant, underscores the profound impact of accurate information and resilience in the realm of organ transplantation.

For over three decades, I have devoted my career as a nephrologist at Hospital Universitário Pedro Ernesto in Rio de Janeiro to caring for kidney patients. This includes those attending outpatient clinics, undergoing dialysis, and those fortunate enough to receive a transplanted kidney, requiring diligent care for their new organ.

One encounter with a patient named Maria profoundly illustrates the impact of misinformation on individuals undergoing kidney transplants. Maria, a recipient of a kidney from a deceased donor over a decade ago, was spotted on the street, shedding tears. Disturbed by her distress, I inquired about the cause.

In tearful revelation, Maria, with her captivating blue eyes glistening, explained that she had been informed that, due to her kidney transplant surgery, she had to part ways with her beloved pet dog, Max. The reason cited was her intake of immunosuppressant medication. 

Swiftly, I dispelled the unfounded information and offered to retrieve Max from the friend’s house where she had sent him. In a heartfelt letter days later, Maria expressed gratitude, deeming that day as “the happiest of her life”.

The twists of fate extended beyond Maria’s individual experience. Her son, also suffering from chronic kidney disease, had been patiently awaiting a transplant. Despite the transparent and efficient system in place, he had grown disillusioned. Desperately seeking a solution, Maria approached me with determination:

“That line is not moving, doctor.”

With a pointed gesture towards the scar from her own transplanted kidney, she proposed a remarkable solution:  

“I want to donate this kidney here that I received from a deceased donor to my son, who is young and needs it more than me.” Moved by this unusual offer, I explained that this was not possible and, a few days later, she returned with her son and his future wife. 

The young lady, determined to save her fiancé, underwent compatibility tests, and miraculously, her kidney was a match. It took numerous meetings and approvals due to her young age (22 years old), but the transplant between the young couple was eventually successful.

Months later, Maria, her son, and daughter-in-law visited the clinic to share joyous news – Maria was to become a grandmother. Throughout the pregnancy, I closely monitored the well-being of both the mother and the baby, thankfully finding all examinations normal.

The culmination of this extraordinary journey came when Maria and her family returned with a photo of the complete family, where Max took center stage. Overwhelmed by emotion, I could not resist asking Maria:”What was the happiest day of your life: the day your grandson was born or the day I told you to get Max back?” Without a moment’s hesitation, she responded: “The day Max came home!”

This heartwarming tale not only showcases the resilience of individuals facing kidney-related challenges but also underscores the profound impact of compassionate care and accurate information in the realm of organ transplantation.

Disclaimer: The blog series is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to endorse or promote any specific drug, product, or brand. Each individual’s experience is unique and should not be construed as medical advice or a guarantee of similar results for others. Always consult a qualified healthcare professional before making any decisions regarding your health and well-being.