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Health Information Best of the Blog: The Greatest Gift

A living kidney donor at Rush shares her inspirational story.

Not everyone gets the chance to save a life. But when Michele Schneible learned that her uncle Ben's kidneys were failing and saw him slipping away, she made the momentous decision to give him one of her kidneys. Rush transplant surgeon Edward Holinger, Jr., MD, PhD, performed both procedures: removing one of Michele's healthy kidneys and implanting the kidney in Ben. Michele recently blogged about her journey to becoming a living kidney donor on the Rush InPerson blog. The following is an excerpt from her post:

My name is Michele Schneible, and this is the story of how I came to donate one of my kidneys to my uncle Ben.

In 1964, Ben was 26 years old and newly married. During a routine health exam, he discovered that his blood pressure was in the 140s and there was anelevated amount of protein in his urine. Based on the exam results, his doctor told Ben he would be a candidate for dialysis. Many tests later, he was diagnosed with glomeuralnephritis, which caused scarring of the nephrons in his kidneys. Ben managed to avoid dialysis for 36 years until eventually he noticed that with the slightest exertion, he would lose energy immediately, his heart would pound rapidly and he would vomit.

Ben thought he was actually having heart failure, but thorough testing proved it was his kidneys passing the threshold of their function, and he finally needed dialysis. After Ben started peritoneal dialysis, he was then put on the transplant list in 1991. In January of 1993, he was approved for a transplant and received a cadaver kidney. But there were complications within the first few years due to renal stenosis. After that, Ben had no other problems and managed to have 17 good years of kidney function. But much to his dismay, after 17 years, his transplant kidney began to deteriorate. He then went back on continuous dialysis, hooked to a machine he had at home for eight to 10 hours a night while he slept.

Visit the Rush InPerson blog to read about why Michele decided to donate one of her kidneys to Ben — and to see how her gift has changed both their lives.

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Please Note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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