Real Stories

GivingTuesday - Gino's Story

(image) Though we may not have met in person, over the past few weeks, you may have read my stories about Anne Burroughs, Ron Walsh and Dee Dee Shipley.  These were people that I had the privilege of meeting as I was developing stories for our Giving Tuesday campaign.

I am Gino Scalise, a junior at Marquette University and a communications intern at the National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin.

As my final story, I wanted to tell you about my time at the National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin, which I will truly never forget as my first internship.

Each day I came to my internship and was surrounded by a polite and energetic team which includes Cindy (Huber) and Amanda (Pollock).

While I learned how to create Facebook posts and e-mails, my main job was to develop the 2016 #GivingTuesday campaign.

This assignment was so memorable because of the stories that I was able to share with people like you-friends of the National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin.

I interviewed three phenomenal donors/recipients and learned about their stories of how they overcame the frequent and unpredictable ‘bumps in the road’.  I was inspired by their perseverance.

Hearing their stories of how much Cindy and The National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin impacted their lives, showed me just how valuable an organization can be.

One of the main things that I kept hearing was the network that the Foundation created.

The people that I talked with felt that they were surrounded by support from the NKFW which is something a lot of people look past when it comes to dealing with kidney failure.

I quickly understood how lucky I was to be an able-bodied person even though I had to deal with chest deformities in my early years.

I also realized that supporting this non-profit organization was the best way I could give back to people who are going through more difficult journeys than I am.

The NKFW offers great help to people in need and is always open to having volunteers for the many programs and events they offer throughout Wisconsin.

The NKFW also welcomes students from any field of study.  Anyone who interns here will get great experience in public relations, advertising and writing/communications skills.  I was fortunate to even get school credit.

I am truly grateful for my time with the National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin and hope that others will take advantage of this phenomenal opportunity. Tell them Gino sent you!

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HEY College students, parents or grandparents, CALL now to learn about Winter/Spring and Summer internships with the National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin.
                        1-800-543-6393                      414-897-8669

 

GivingTuesday- Dee Dee's Story

Not many people have had as many health challenges in their lifetime as Dee Dee Shipley, but through her faith, she received many miracles.

Dee Dee was diagnosed with diabetes when she was two years old, unheard of in 1961.

She grew up into her adult years without an accurate means of testing her blood sugars and so, consequently, suffered all the negative side effects of uncontrolled diabetes.

At age 23, she met the "love of her life" and after marrying, a year later, gave birth to a 1 pound 14 oz. baby girl, due to diabetic complications. Their beautiful miracle baby was perfect in every way and just needed to grow.

At age 27, she developed kidney disease.  Her kidneys were going downhill so fast, her doctor told her she would be on dialysis in about one year.  With a toddler at home, she wasn't about to let that happen! Through faith and a miracle, she was able to start a study drug that extended the life of her kidneys for eight years.

Dee Dee went on dialysis for only five weeks before receiving a kidney/pancreas transplant at age 35.  The kidney worked perfectly, but 10 days after surgery, the pancreas failed and had to be removed.  Dee Dee says that was the worst day of her life.

When she tried to get another pancreas at age 41, the doctor told her she needed five heart bypasses first. She had the surgery and though her heart was fixed, she came out of the surgery completely blind.  Both eyes suffered an optic nerve stroke during surgery from a too-low blood supply.  Dee Dee's faith lead her to believe this was part of a divine plan for her life.

At age 44, Dee Dee finally received another pancreas which has worked perfectly since the day she got it.  Yet another miracle.

After 20 years, her first kidney transplant was on its "last leg".  By another miracle, her best friend was a match and she received that kidney on July 21, of this year.  She is so thankful for her dear friend who was willing to share such a priceless gift with her.

Through all the "gifts of life” she has received, Dee Dee and her husband have been able to fulfill their dreams and adopt 10 children. Dee Dee says, “My life is so blessed!  If it weren't for all the bumps in the road, I wouldn't have all my amazing miracles to share!"

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This Giving Tuesday, people going through difficult struggles just like Dee Dee endured are searching for a helping hand throughout their health journeys. The National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin is determined to make sure that people like Dee Dee always see the hope in their life - no matter how difficult their journey may be. Help support the #KINDney campaign this Giving Tuesday and make sure everyone feels the kindness surrounding them. 

 

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GivingTuesday - Ron and Laura

Twenty-five years ago, Ron Walsh displayed the act of #Kindness by donating his kidney to his daughter, Laura.  She was six years old and only weighed 35 pounds when she underwent a kidney transplant operation.

Ron described the evaluation process leading up to the donation as an “anxious” time. However, on July 3, 1991 the life-saving kidney transplant operation was a success. Yet the donation did not end their troubles.

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In fact, Laura caught a serious fever and almost lost her life about five months after the transplant. Ron describes the entire year after the transplant as a time of peaks and valleys.

After that year Ron and Laura have been able to experience amazing things together, including trips to Disney World and Pittsburgh attending the NKF U.S. Transplant Games. Ron says Laura was finally able to enjoy life as a normal teenage girl after the grueling process.

The pair first became involved with the National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin in 2000. They were able to meet and hear stories from people going through similar situations and create a support network for themselves throughout Wisconsin.   

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 “It’s nice that there is an organization like the National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin for people to go to for help… They’re there to help people be aware.”

 Ron also described the Foundation as a resource for overall health, encouraging everyone to have a healthy lifestyle which is one of the definitions of the #Kindney campaign.

This Giving Tuesday, be sure to give to the #Kindney campaign to help the National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin support people like Ron and Laura. Your gift can give others a sense of community so that no one feels alone in their #Kindney journey.

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GivingTuesday - Anne's Story

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Donna (center) pictured with Anne and Jackson

Eleven years ago Donna Burdge was in need of a transplant to avoid dialysis as her kidney function was deteriorating. Searching for a donor, Donna’s daughter, Anne Burroughs discovered she was a match and decided to give her mother the ultimate gift of kindness, a healthy kidney.

Anne remembers the process. It was “a rollercoaster of emotions filled with peaks and valleys… it was a surreal experience…it didn’t sink in that I would be donating a kidney until the weekend before the transplant."

Looking back now, Anne would repeat the process knowing that she provided her mother with over eleven healthy years thanks to the life-saving operation.

Remembering the sense of isolation and loneliness that she and her mother experienced at times, Anne stated, “Sometimes when you’re going through an illness you can feel like the only one going through the process… But the National Kidney Foundation created a network of support”.

Her first seminar with the National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin was an educational experience where she learned about treatment options and heard from others navigating through life with kidney disease.

The Foundation provided a sense of community which gave the two the opportunity to grow beyond kidney disease.

Donna, an artist, painted a picture that was used on the cover of a Living Donor Recognition event. [seen below]

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When the kidney disease was first diagnosed, it was all that the mother and daughter focused on. However, with their brave spirit and support from the National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin, the two had their lives back.

No one should feel alone in their health journey. During this time of thanks, donate to the National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin to provide a helping hand to those who are in search of support.

 

 

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Brenda's Story

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Sitting with Brenda and Kurt Jagler of Sheboygan, it’s easy to see that they have an ebb and flow to their lives. Their 39 years of marriage allows them to easily bounce around in their story, correcting each other’s details, adding an inside joke here and there, and tearing up over some of the more emotional memories. Through it all, their appreciation for the life and love they have received motivates them to give back and support so many others facing challenges.

Brenda was diagnosed with Lupus at 16 years old. Living in Sheboygan at a time when medicine and technology was evolving meant Brenda’s family had to go to out of state to be treated. Her medications were so intense that she missed a year of high school and was tutored at home. The doctors didn’t believe she would live past 20 years old and encouraged her to never have children. Despite an uncertain future, Brenda and Kurt got married and had two children, and soon will have four grandchildren.

For over 20 years, Brenda was sick on and off as her kidney function slowly declined. She finally began dialysis and was placed on the transplant waiting list, but developed a bleed in one of her kidneys. She spent a month in the hospital, even being put in an induced coma at one point. Brenda had to learn to walk again. Over a year went by until she was well enough to be put back on the transplant waiting list. However, she did not receive credit for her accumulated waiting time.

Frustrated by unanswered questions, Kurt began diligently researching, determined to find a way to help his wife. As fate would have it, a newsletter from the National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin (NKFW) had recently arrived in the mail. He called the 800 number listed on the sheet. “When I finally called, I didn’t know what to do anymore,” Kurt stated.

He got connected with Cindy, the CEO of NKFW, who listened to his story. She pointed him in the direction of who to talk to at the transplant center in November. By December, everything was sorted out and in January, Brenda received her kidney transplant.

When the call finally came, it was strange to think that the transplant was finally happening. Brenda and Kurt rushed to Milwaukee where Brenda spent the night in the hospital and Kurt in his son’s dorm room, waiting for surgery the next morning. The transplant went well, and the team became close friends with Brenda and Kurt as they returned for check-ups.

Brenda and Kurt are grateful for the journey they went through, appreciating where they are now. “When you’re on dialysis, you see people that are much sicker than you,” Brenda said. “Someone would come in and the next day their leg was gone because they had diabetes. Many of the patients died. I learned that you’ve got to stay strong for your kids and for your husband. Every day, feeling better and having my family means the most to me.”

Cindy and the Jagler’s have met a few times over the years and Brenda and Kurt continue to support NKFW. At Brenda’s recent 60th birthday party, guests gave donations to NKFW in honor of the best gift Brenda could have ever received – a life-saving kidney. “We read about all of the great work NKFW does and it sounds exciting,” Kurt shared. “It’s an organization that’s helping people. We’ve been given so much, it’s anything we can do to give back. This is our cause.”