For the media

The Facebook post that saved a life

By The Health News Team | April 26, 2024
SMH Teresita Brooke Kidney Transplant HN3631 Cover Sized

For Teresita, the journey to find a new kidney started on social media.

During her first pregnancy, Teresita Brooke learned she had protein in her urine. Just 21, she didn’t understand the implications until years later when she had an emergency gallbladder removal. Her doctor explained that protein in the urine could indicate potential kidney disease.

Teresita received a referral to Dr. Bijal Patel, a board-certified nephrologist (kidney doctor) who is with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group and Sharp Community Medical Group and is also affiliated with Sharp Memorial Hospital. Despite experiencing no symptoms at the time of diagnosis, Dr. Patel determined Teresita had Stage 3 chronic kidney disease.

"Understanding the journey of each patient is fundamental,” Dr. Patel says. “For individuals like Teresita, it's not just about treating a condition. It's about walking alongside them, listening and guiding them through every step.”

Dr. Patel says his goal when treating a patient is to offer hope, educate, reduce fear and create a plan for success. “Teresita was always a joy to see,” he says. “It’s a struggle to have kidney failure, so it’s wonderful even to be a small part of her beautiful story."

A new stage of treatment

Over time, Teresita's condition deteriorated, and she learned she needed dialysis, a treatment that helps remove excess fluid and waste products from the blood. In 2017, Teresita started with peritoneal dialysis, during which she received a blood-cleansing solution called dialysate that was administered through a tube into her abdominal cavity. This form of dialysis uses the inside lining of the abdomen to filter the blood.

When the peritoneal dialysis stopped working for her in 2019, Teresita switched to hemodialysis. This treatment uses a machine to filter waste and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys are no longer working as well as they should.

That same year, Teresita received approval to join the national transplant waitlist in hopes of getting a new kidney from an organ donor. Waiting for a kidney from a deceased donor can take years, negatively affecting the recipient's health. However, living kidney donation is a often a faster solution that can significantly improve a person’s quality of life.

A momentous post

Teresita decided to take action. She created a post on Facebook to share that she was looking for a living kidney donor.

"Dialysis was a challenging experience for me,” Teresita says. “I became quite close with the other patients, so when some of them stopped showing up, it was tough to accept that they might have passed away while waiting for their kidney. I knew I needed to find a creative way to get a new kidney.”

After Teresita posted on the social media platform, she received an unexpected reply from a woman in Ohio. The woman and Teresita belonged to the same jewelry crafting group on Facebook. The stranger offered to donate her kidney, completely shocking Teresita by her act of generosity and selflessness.

Unfortunately, after testing was complete, Teresita learned the potential donor was not a match. However, the donor participated in a donor exchange program, which allows donors to give their kidney to someone they are compatible with in exchange for a voucher to move up their loved one or a special recipient on the transplant waitlist.

Finding hope — and a new life

The donation process was successful. By January 2023, a young father of three received the donor's kidney, and Teresita received a kidney recipient voucher. A few months later, while receiving dialysis, Teresita received a call informing her that a compatible kidney had been found.

On October 12, 2023, four days before her 49th birthday, Teresita received her new kidney, thanks to a Facebook friend, the donor and her doctor, Dr. Jeffrey Halldorson, a kidney transplant surgeon affiliated with Sharp Community Medical Group and Sharp Memorial Hospital.

Today, Teresita's health is robust, and her test results continue to look good. Her new kidney has made a significant difference in her life, giving her energy and inspiration.

Teresita now knows that, even in hard times, there’s always hope. And a small act of kindness can change everything.

Learn more about living kidney donation at Sharp; get the latest health and wellness news, trends and patient stories from Sharp Health News; and subscribe to our weekly newsletter by clicking the "Sign up" link below.

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