Over 98,000 people nationwide currently have their names on a waiting list for a kidney with less than 20,000 transplants conducted each year.
Desmond Padilla, 38, who lives with his family in Connecticut and whose name remains on the waiting list, learned that it could take as much as six years or more before a matching kidney could be found. But after three years passed by, he and his family found their patience waning. With that, they started a campaign on their own to find a donor and to hopefully prolong his life.
Desmond received a donor kidney from his sister in 2010. Then, three years later routine blood work showed his body had rejected the transplant. He had already advanced to stage four renal failure, leaving him dependent on four-hour long dialysis treatments three times a week.
“We were told a perfect match like this one would last 18 years,” said wife and mother, Evelyn.
She compares the dialysis treatments to having another job for her and her husband, both of whom already work full-time while raising a brood of four children.
But love conquers all. Even with their job responsibilities, the cost of child care and a significant commitment of time related to Desmond’s dialysis treatments, the family of six has added even more to their plates – hosting a regular series of events to raise both awareness and funds. The hashtag: #FindDesAKidney.
“You never know who’s looking, who’s watching and whose heart you may touch,” Evelyn said.
Many of the events they’ve already held have successfully reached family members, friends, co-workers and even their immediate community.
Whenever they receive approval to set up and man a kidney failure awareness stand at local events, they sell T-shirts that include: Desmond’s name and blood type (A); the contact number to the Yale Donor Hotline; the proverbial hashtag; and a verse from the Bible which reads “faith without works is dead.”
Desmond’s diagnosis of renal failure can be traced to Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSG), a disease that produces scarring in the kidney. Men and African Americans tend to be slightly more susceptible than others. However, doctors have told the family that Desmond’s FSG appears to have no discernible cause.
The Padillas’ campaign efforts continue to generate wide support among family and friends and have even led to two potential kidney donor leads. Unfortunately, neither one resulted in a successful match.
However, Desmond says he has not lost faith.
“Sometimes it’s frustrating but I try to stay positive,” said Desmond, who despite constant nausea, dizziness and pain, maintains a 60-hour workweek.
He says the physical toll the disease has had on his body and the emotional impact to which he and his family have been subjected have made the waiting even harder. His helpmate agrees.
“It’s tough because you know so many people die waiting,” Evelyn said.
Desmond added that he’s become more reluctant to developing friendships with fellow patients at his dialysis center after several died while still on a transplant waitlist.
Through disappointments, the Padilla family says they’ll continue their campaign, #FindDesAKidney, always believing that everything they do helps them prepare for that one future outcome: a new kidney for Desmond.
“We pray we get the call and we hope that it’s on time,” Evelyn said.