Shedding light on the need for donors
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–You may know Sydney and Ed Busch as the co-founders of Friends of the Animals in Gun Barrel City. You may know Ed as a local Ham Radio operator who has been active in the Cedar Creek Amateur Radio Club. You may even remember Ed from his days as a radio personality.
But not many know that Ed has been fighting kidney disease for over 20 years. The National Kidney Foundation estimates that 37 million people in the U.S. suffer from kidney disease, some 15% of the adult population. WebMD tells us, “Kidney disease can affect your body’s ability to clean your blood, filter extra water out of your blood and help control your blood pressure. It can also affect red blood cell production and vitamin D metabolism needed for bone health.”
Symptoms for those with kidney disease range from the subtle to the severe and include high blood pressure, nausea or vomiting, loss of appetite, trouble thinking, weakness, sleep issues, muscle twitches or cramps, swelling in feet or ankles, chest pain from fluid build-up around the heart or shortness of breath if the build-up is around the lungs.
For Ed, his symptoms were subtle, and once he was aware of it, his doctors helped him to control it with dietary and lifestyle changes. Since some medications affect kidney function, his medications for high blood pressure and diabetes were modified and his condition was monitored. After consulting a nephrologist, his kidney function continued to decrease until last year, he was told that he was nearing the threshold of 17% function, considered end-stage kidney disease.
There are two ways to treat the disease once it reaches this stage: dialysis or transplant. Dialysis patients often have the procedure three to four times a week and it takes several hours each time. Transplant can be either from a deceased or living donor.
Each person is born with two kidneys and can live a lifetime with just one healthy kidney. Transplant from a living donor has many advantages including being able to function immediately, as well as ensuring better compatibility since many times family members are the ones to donate and may be genetically compatible. A better genetic match reduces the risk of rejection.
Ed began his search for a donor in August 2019 when his kidney function dropped below 20%. His wife Sydney was the first to be tested but she was not a match. Then she took to social media to help find a donor.
Sydney posted their story on Facebook in Oct. 2019 and friends began to step up to be tested. First in line was Eston Williams, a retired local preacher who had known the couple for many years. Testing involves blood match as well as an exhaustive physical examination. Although Williams was not a match, he counts the testing as God’s blessing since it brought to light medical conditions he was unaware of that could have had disastrous effects had they remained hidden.
The next friend to volunteer was Terri Hudson who had been friends with the couple for several years, having bonded over a mutual love for animals. “We immediately felt like kindred spirits and once I knew of the situation, I couldn’t remain idle. From a spiritual perspective, it felt like a calling,” Hudson said.
Although the decision was immediate, the testing took some time and Hudson was ruled compatible. Then the coronavirus hit and all elective surgeries were postponed indefinitely.
When a donation comes from a living donor, the donor has a medical team separate from the recipient. The donor is screened not only for physical issues that may impact them later on but also psychologically to ensure they have not been coerced in any way and that they are comfortable with their decision to donate. All testing and procedures are completed at no cost to the donor, including follow-up after the donation. Additional benefits for donors may be available through their employer or other organizations.
Hudson said that she was already listed to be an organ donor after her death but that this is a way “to see the effect I can have on another person. I have had friends who have had health issues and had transplants, so I know how important this can be.”
Currently, the transplant is scheduled for December.
According to organdonor.com, there are more than 109,000 men, women and children on the national transplant list and 17 people die each day waiting for a donor. The need for donors grows each day as someone is added every nine minutes. For more information, visit organdonor.com.