Centerton, Ark., Resident 'Thankful' for New Kidney
Nov. 23, 2015 (Tulsa, Okla.) — This Thanksgiving, Centerton, Ark., resident Kelly Sik said she is thankful for everything she can do now that she is healthy. Less than three months ago, she and her longtime boyfriend drove about two hours to St. John Medical Center in Tulsa so she could finally receive a new kidney, after many years of suffering.
When Kelly was a teenager, her immune system was mistakenly attacking healthy body tissue, causing inflammation in her kidneys, as well as bleeding in her lungs.
"I didn't realize at the time that I had a rare disease called Goodpasture syndrome," she said. "It was really bad then."
When she was diagnosed in 1995, living in Minnesota at the time, her kidneys were in bad shape. She was hospitalized for 32 days, and her doctors put her on dialysis and plasmapheresis (a process similar to kidney dialysis that involves the replacement of affected plasma in the bloodstream). Her symptoms gradually went away, and she spent the next 17 years in remission. During that time, she had her two children, now ages 14 and 15.
In October 2013, her kidneys started to shut down again, and she went back on dialysis. At the beginning of 2015, she completed her pre-transplant workup and was officially placed on the waitlist for a compatible kidney.
"I was working prior to that, then when I was put on dialysis again I just decided to stay home and tend to my children," Kelly said. "They tried to help me out the best they could. My daughter wanted to give me her kidney so bad. My son has autism, so he didn't comprehend everything, but he was really good through the whole thing."
The morning of Sept. 11, 2015, Kelly received a phone call from Irfan Kundi, M.D., transplant nephrologist at the St. John Transplant Center. He told her she was currently a backup for a kidney offer. Kelly said she called family and friends immediately, excited to let them know she was a step closer. A transplant coordinator called a little later and suggested she pack her bags, just in case. Finally, around 4:30 p.m., as she was cleaning the house and getting her kids ready for dinner, she received the third and final call.
"They told me I needed to come to Tulsa because I was going to get a kidney," Kelly said. "I kept my composure on the phone, but as soon as I got off the phone I broke down crying for the third time that day. I wasn't nervous; I was just really joyful. God has definitely shined his light upon me."
While the kidney was being flown in from the state of Washington, Kelly and her boyfriend stayed in St. John's Transplant House, a fully furnished home where transplant patients can stay while receiving treatment. The next morning, on Sept. 12, she received her kidney transplant.
"The doctors were excited about how soon [the new kidney] started working, and I was too," Kelly recalled. "And to slowly get my color back. I looked so yellowish before. Everyone said they could tell the difference between the night before my transplant and the next day."
She said that although she is thankful for the St. John kidney transplant team, she is excited to have less doctor's appointments now, giving her more time to do regular activities with her family.
"I couldn't do much with my kids before," she said. "We couldn't go swimming. We couldn't go camping. If they did, I would just have to watch. We couldn't travel because I had to be close to the dialysis center.
"God has given me a new lease on life. He has granted me more time with my wonderful children, and I feel empowered."
About the St. John Transplant Center
Since 1992, the St. John Transplant Center has grown into a regional kidney transplant program, serving patients in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri. Recently named a top transplant program by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, St. John has gained prominence for its clinical expertise and exceptional outcomes. The St. John transplant team sees every recipient and donor as a unique individual with a diverse set of needs requiring personalized care. For more information, please visit stjohnhealthsystem.com/transplant or call 918-744-2925.
About St. John Health System
St. John Health System is a not-for-profit Catholic health care system founded in 1926. St. John operates hospitals in Tulsa, Owasso, Broken Arrow, Sapulpa and Bartlesville. Other subsidiaries of St. John Health System include St. John Clinic, St. John Clinic Urgent Care and medical complexes in south Tulsa and Claremore. St. John serves more than 3,500 patients every day. St. John is a member of Ascension, the nation's largest Catholic and nonprofit health system.
Ascension (www.ascension.org) is a faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care. As the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system, Ascension is committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all persons with special attention to those who are struggling the most. In FY2015, Ascension provided nearly $2 billion in care of persons living in poverty and other community benefit programs. Approximately 150,000 associates and 35,000 aligned providers serve in 1,900 sites of care – including 129 hospitals and more than 30 senior care facilities – in 24 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to healthcare delivery, Ascension subsidiaries provide a variety of services and solutions including physician practice management, venture capital investing, treasury management, biomedical engineering, clinical care management, information services, risk management, and contracting through Ascension’s own group purchasing organization.