The Kidney Club: From diagnosis to post-transplant

Neelam Bohra

On March 12, 2019, I forced myself to breathe, barely awake in my hospital bed. Tubes blew oxygen into my nose. Needles dug into my neck and arms. But I was the healthiest I had been in years.

My new kidney was tucked under a fresh, 5-inch scar, finally removing the toxin build-up in my blood. Relief and discomfort overwhelmed me, and both feelings would follow me from my hospital bed to UT as I recovered from my kidney transplant surgery.

Kidneys remove waste from the blood and control blood pressure. Mine, though, spent years shriveling up inside of me like cut flowers left out of water too long. Week-long migraines and constant vomiting led to my diagnosis, but soon after, I received a kidney transplant from Leah Waters, a journalism teacher at Frisco Heritage High School. She heard about me and decided to get tested. When she found out her blood type matched mine, she decided to give me one of her kidneys.

Although I count myself lucky, and having a transplant is a huge step forward, kidney disease is a minefield. Being a young person with kidney disease is isolating —  I was one of the 12% of people who received kidney transplants between the ages of 18 and 34 in 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Since then, I have searched for and found two other recipients at UT, who each have faced numerous challenges. For Mason Bettes, it was balancing dialysis with being a full-time college student. For Nhi Tran, it was dealing with different side effects all throughout high school.