clip_image002_002by Kate Day Sager – Olean Times Herald

January 19, 2009

Dorothy Brunner knew something wasn’t right with her daughter, Teresa, over a year ago when her face began breaking out and she was out of energy.

What the Olean family found out after Teresa Brunner visited the doctor in September 2007 would completely shock them. Not only did she have kidney disease she also was in kidney failure and needed dialysis immediately.

A lifelong resident of the Olean area, Teresa Brunner had been in good health and active prior to the diagnosis.

“If she hadn’t gone to the doctor when she did she wouldn’t be sitting here right now, it was that bad,” Dorothy Brunner said of her daughter.

In addition to helping her mother with the family-owned Olean Flea Market on Route 16, Teresa Brunner, 42, stays busy with her 15-year-old daughter, Aysha.

After learning of her kidney failure, Teresa Brunner had to adjust to her new life style. Her weekly routine now includes dialysis treatments three times a week at the Dialysis Center at Olean General Hospital. She also has regular doctor appointments and surgeries for shunts at Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo.

Although Teresa Brunner was put on a transplant list at the Buffalo hospital soon after her diagnosis, she is uncertain how long she will be able to go on if a donor doesn’t come through soon. A shunt placed in her arm for dialysis treatment stopped functioning after six months and was replaced by another one in her chest. That shunt is also wearing out and will be replaced by another shunt in her opposite arm.

“After that, they start on your legs (for shunts) but eventually they run out of places to put them,” Dorothy Brunner said.

Teresa Brunner said her sister, Dianne Brunner, and a cousin had stepped forward to donate a kidney but both found out they were not medically able to be donors.

Dorothy Brunner also would like to be a donor but has a different blood type from her daughter’s B positive blood. In addition, doctors have told here she has too much of an age difference with her daughter to be a suitable donor.

Dorothy Brunner said they weren’t certain where to turn until they saw an article in the Olean Times Herald several months ago. The article was about Olean resident Julie Wolf who received a kidney transplant after she was listed with the Western New York Kidney Connection based in Jamestown. Like Teresa Brunner, Ms. Wolf had waited a number of years for a transplant and was in dire need of the operation. Ms. Wolf’s health has improved greatly since receiving a new kidney from Linda Padilla who learned of Ms. Wolf’s need through Kidney Connection.

Dorothy Brunner said her daughter is now listed on the organization’s Web site and is hopeful every day that someone will see it and respond. She said Ms. Wolf’s story offered them encouragement that help is out there for her daughter.

“If there is somebody out there who can use my kidney and is closer to my age, I’d be more than willing to” exchange my kidney, Dorothy Brunner offered.

In the meantime, Teresa Brunner is trying to stay as healthy as possible by exercising at the Olean Family YMCA several times a week. Doctors have told her that the healthier she is the better and more successful the transplant will be.

She also tries to assure her daughter, who was recently diagnosed with the beginning stages of hereditary kidney disease, that there may be medical breakthroughs in the future.

“She’s mad because she can’t play soccer anymore,” Teresa Brunner said of her daughter. “She had played it for three years.”

Jeanette Ostrom of Kidney Connection said publicity, such as Ms. Wolf’s story, has helped the organization find donors for those in need of transplants.

“I’ve had at least three or four people who have called and said they wanted to be donors,” Ms. Ostrom said. “The publicity is helping very much.

“Teresa Brunner saw it (Times Herald story) and called us, otherwise she wouldn’t have the hope she has now,” Ms. Ostrom said.

She said the Web site currently has Teresa Brunner listed, along with 46 other people in need of a transplant. The individuals’ blood types are also posted with the listings.

“A lot of people wait as long as five years, so by the time they get a transplant they’re very sick,” Ms. Ostrom continued. “That’s why we want to find a donor as soon as possible so they’re not so sick” and have a better survival rate.

For more information on the Kidney Connection organization, visit the Web site kidneyconnection.org or contact Ms. Ostrom at (716) 450-8958.