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This fundraiser ended on 07/31/10

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My name is Angelina. I have been struggling with Juvenile Brittle Diabetes since I was about 9. I have had very many complication associated with the disease. Now I am on the national Kidney-Pancreas transplant list. There is so much more to my story

On June 25, my brother will donate a kidney to me. I'll be in the hospital for 7-10 days. After the initial surgery, I'll need to return to Indianapolis twice a week for two months. That means at least sixteen trips! The doctors need to do extensive blood work to make sure my body doesn't attempt to reject my brother's kidney. It's a three-hour drive from my home in South Bend to Indianapolis. My family will need funds for gas money, lodging, and meals. By sending a donation, you can help me travel to and from Indianapolis for the check-ups and blood work necessary for a successful transplant. If you would like to learn more about what I have gone through over the past 18 years, please keep reading. Thank you for your generosity!


Diagnosed with Type One Diabetes at Age 10
In May of 1992, I became very ill. I couldn't keep food down. I lost close to 15 pounds in a matter of days. I looked like death was knocking on my door and I was 10! Before that time, I was mostly a healthy, athletic, fun child. Then my mom took me to my doctor. He weighed me and looked in my throat. He never took a temperature or urine sample or did any blood tests. He said I had the flu and sent me home. That same night, my dad came home while I was resting on the couch. I looked like a skeleton. My dad took me to the local ER where they drew blood and took a urine sample. They started me on an IV fluid regimen of sugar water. I soon found that this was making me worse. The doctor frantically ordered the nurses to stop the IV and informed everyone that my blood sugar level was greater than 900. I was now a type one brittle juvenile diabetic.

I vaguely remember slipping in and out of consciousness. The next morning I awoke with doctors and nurses alongside my parents. They looked so worried and scared; all of these adults were looking at me with such sadness. I asked what was going on. They explained in great detail what had been happening and what would be happening. I was given videos and pamphlets. The nurse told me that I would have to take an insulin shot every time I had to eat and check my blood sugar levels with a small machine every day before meals and activities. The nurse asked if I would like to learn how to take those shots on a doll or an orange. I asked if I could just go ahead and give myself my first shot. I wasn't scared! So that's what I have been doing ever since that day.

Over the past 18 years, I have developed lots of issues. The list seems to grow year to year: depression disorder, nerve damage (stomach, legs, face and sex organs), retinaopathy in both eyes. I should have had frequent flier miles added to my medical bills. I have had many other smaller issues in those years as well.


A Happy Mom at Age 22
I have an amazing six-year-old son. He was born healthy but the pregnancy wasn't without major complications. My heart stopped a number of times within those nine months. At seven months, I was admitted to the hospital for a pin-sized puncture in my right cheek. It was such a tiny hole and it wouldn't stop bleeding; it took them forever to deal with it. At eight months, I was admitted for flu-like symptoms only to find out I had a blood infection. I was put on oxygen. There were machines and nurses and doctors everywhere. My boyfriend, my mother, and two friends stood by helplessly while this went on for an hour or so. I kept entertaining everyone even though I had an oxygen mask on and everyone who looked at me had a frantic look in their eyes. When even the doctor even looked scared, I hid my emotions. He concluded I had a virus running through my blood; he was worried for me and my unborn child. Things finally went back to normal for a bit. My son Wiley was born healthy and I was too happy about that to worry about anything else.


Kidney Problems and Stroke at Age 26
Two years ago, I went to see a new doctor. She ran regular new patient labs. From there, I was sent to a kidney specialist who told me I had only 24% of my kidney function left. I didn't know how to deal with that news. It was a blow to me. My previous doctors hadn't said anything about my kidneys. I was put on strict diets to regulate my sodium, potassium, protein, liquids and calories. Just weeks after that news, I had a mild stroke. At 26 years old! I lost most of my speech for almost a week. I could think things I wanted to say and write them down, but for almost a week I couldn't speak those thoughts.


Cardiac Arrest and Dialysis at Age 27
In January of 2009, my ankles, stomach, chest and face began to swell. I am talking Nutty Professor style! I was having a lot of trouble breathing and feeling stuffed after one bite of food. When I would lie down, I would hear a gurgling sound from my chest. I went to the local ER where I was told that my kidney function had dropped to 20%. 15% kidney function is when you must be put on dialysis, get a transplant, or give up your life and get put six feet under. I wanted nothing to do with any of those choices, but when you are given lemons you have no choice but to make lemonade! I contacted my kidney specialist but he was on vacation; the nurse and on-call doctor didn't seem too worried at that point. They upped my water pill to help me get rid of the extra fluid.

Well, sometimes when it rains, it pours. This was one of those times. Get your rain gear, kids! The medication didn't help and a few days later I was really struggling to breath normally. I went to the local ER again to find out I had dropped in kidney function to 14%. I was officially below the 15% "Oh, shit!" marker. My chest X-ray indicated fluid overload. I went into surgery the next day so the could put a tube in my neck and clean out my blood out (since my kidneys had taken an unauthorized leave of absence). I couldn't eat or drink very much because of the surgery. By the time I was in surgery, it was almost 6 pm. I hadn't eaten since the day before at 4 pm, and I am a diabetic. I went straight to hemo-dialysis after surgery. I was so sick and felt completely out of it; my head hurt and my stomach ached. That night I attempted to eat a little since I had been given pain medication. I entertained my family and friends. I didn't want them to see me suffering, so I played it all down. Too bad it didn't work out that way. I threw up the little bit I had eaten on, and, in the process, I ripped open the stitches in my neck. Yeah, it was pretty much as awesome as it sounds.

After this, I was given more pain medication. Too bad my kidneys hadn't had enough dialysis to filter out the narcotics. Here's a math equation for you: Take a 120 pound diabetic girl and don't feed her for over 24 hours. Give her pain medication and then more medication, and what do you get? Yeah. Cardiac arrest! My heart stopped in the middle of the night. The nurse came to check on me and noticed I was non-responsive and my lips were blue. I woke up in a new room with a bunch of monitors hooked to me that were not there before. I was monitored very closely after that. After that experience, I didn't even take aspirin for pain; I just dealt with it. Five days later I went into surgery to have a tube inserted in to my stomach for dialysis. I now hook up to a Home Choice Pro Dialysis machine every night.


Kidney Transplant at Age 28
Since last summer, I have been taking test after test to see if I am healthy enough to undergo transplant surgery. I have passed, and a few months ago I was put on the National Kidney and Pancreas List. My brother Shawn, who is thirty, offered to see if he was a match in terms of blood and tissue. He has taken all of the necessary tests, and it just so happens he is a great match. Now, after all of this, we are both a go for me to receive one of his healthy kidneys. My older sister Dawn was very willing to do the same for me but there were concerns about babies in the future; I understand her choices. I would not ask anyone for any organ. I am so thankful to both my siblings for the love and support they have given me. Now we are set for surgery on June 25 in Indianapolis. We hope this is the beginning of my recovery process, so that everyone involved can live a healthier, fuller life.


Thank you to all who have helped in supporting me and my family!

Bless you,
Angelina

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