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Son gives mother kidney for birthday!

TeresitaDalsonWilsonA few weeks before total kidney failure and shortly before her birthday in August last year, Teresita Dalson-Wilson got what she considered her best birthday gift ever – a new kidney from her son.

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

Pre-dialysis patients are persons who are diagnosed with a kidney disease, but have not yet started 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, SMMC said. Pre-dialysis patients are, however, more informed and have the opportunity to better manage their health and prepare for the drastic life changes that come with haemodialysis, in comparison to patients who suddenly become ill with no prior knowledge of a kidney disease and put immediately on dialysis treatment.

Even before being diagnosed with a kidney disease, Dalson-Wilson 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 Curaçao who later diagnosed her with kidney failure after a biopsy and other examinations.

In St. Maarten, after her diagnosis, Dalson-Wilson's family doctor advised her to visit the Dialysis Department to get a better understanding of what life changes to expect when haemodialysis would become a reality.

"When I got to the hospital, I cried and cried and cried," she recollected. "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, Dalson-Wilson returned the following day to begin a monthly medication that would slow down her kidney failure. Seeing the patients on the machine was "devastating" for Dalson-Wilson. "I did not want that for me," she said.

However, in the meantime, she returned to Curaçao for surgery to receive a shunt. In the event that dialysis would be necessary, the shunt would be an access line for haemodialysis instead of an emergency catheter via the neck, which can be painful for a patient.

A few months after, Dalson-Wilson and her daughter attended a kidney transplant information session organised at the time by SMMC Dialysis and Social Work departments. The session gave patients, their friends and family, medical insurances and other healthcare provider's information about the possibilities for patients to receive a kidney transplant from a living donor.

Dalson-Wilson's family decided to pursue this option and started the coordination with the SMMC Kidney Transplant coordination team and Social and Health Care Insurance SZV when her son Benedict Henry proved to be match.

The process took some time but "nurse Georgina [Mingau – Ed.] was always on top of things," Dalson-Wilson said. "She would call and remind me that I had to do a test or visit a doctor."

Dalson-Wilson had her kidney transplant on August 7, 2014, at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. She was discharged a little more than two weeks after the surgery and just one day before her milestone 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 deceased donor. It is not easy, but it 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."

Dalson-Wilson spent nine months in the Netherlands 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. [Sonia – Ed.] Swanston."

SMMC said following a kidney transplant, it is important to follow medication. Dalson-Wilson 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 this will be possible for other patients who have not yet begun dialysis, it is the best option there is," she said.

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