From the archives …
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Hello to everyone. My name is Sharon Wentz. This month exactly eleven years ago one of the great purposes of my life unfolded—I was able to give my beloved mother a kidney. I feel so honored to be asked by my former colleague Dave Gerber to contribute to this website. We worked together for a very long time at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg Florida. I was managing the Pediatric Dialysis Program and Dave was directing the Chaplains/Social Workers. Our paths would cross on a regular basis in the Pediatric Intensive Care Units. I would be performing dialysis procedures and Dave would be supporting both families and clinical staff. I am happy to share my personal story as it may be helpful to someone out there. I also look forward to sharing information related to organ donation, and new treatment/research.
So here is Part One:
Out of the Blue….
I could have never guessed that my daily nursing work in pediatrics was actually preparing me for what was to come in my private life. January 2000, my mother who was age 58 and never sick had been in bed for several weeks with what appeared to be the flu. I was at work and literally received a phone call on an unusually rainy day from the Emergency room at a local hospital. My father immediately put the ER physician on the phone. I will never forget his words- that my mom was in kidney failure and would require hemodialysis now and chronically. He felt that this was not a temporary or reversible situation, and that her one small dysplastic kidney that she had from birth had failed. I remember feeling very weak in the knees even though I was sitting in my chair, heart racing and breathless. All I could do was call my husband to drive me to the hospital where my mom was. I recall walking out to my dialysis unit where the nurses were performing hemodialysis procedures on the kids— something I saw every hour of every day and just staring at the machines with this surreal feeling that was falling over me. Words came out of my mouth to my colleagues and friends that I needed to leave, that my own mom was in renal failure.
As I entered mom’s hospital room all I can remember feeling is how this just came out of the blue. How could this be? Something that I NEVER would have believed could happen to MY mother was rapidly becoming a reality. My mom was in obvious need of immediate hemodialysis, hospital staff flying around her bed, blood work being drawn, medications administered, and the dreaded central line being placed for her first treatment. Tears streamed from my eyes with the realization that our family life was now changed forever. Through this my mom was alert but wide-eyed; trying to keep all of us calm by telling us she was “ok”. Her loving nature was clearly showing even as she literally was struggling for her life.
I knew that everything I learned taking care of sick children on dialysis was a gift- a gift of preparation and knowing what to do…..