by Loren Kent, Jamestown Post Journal
June 10, 2007
Christina Piazza is 20 years old and recently married to Fred, a husband who loves and cares for her. The couple should be enjoying life, starting a family or traveling — instead Christina has a problem that causes her to worry and fills her days with depression.
‘‘We were married on June 23, 2006, and shortly after our wedding I found out that I had to begin kidney dialysis treatments,’’ Christina said. ‘‘Now I’m depressed. I worry about making my treatments at WCA, and I worry about finding a kidney donor.’’
Christina visits WCA Hospital three days a week at 6:30 a.m. for kidney dialysis treatments that last for three hours. Under normal conditions, Christina and Fred would enjoy traveling and camping, but dialysis makes that impossible.
‘‘With the treatments falling like they do, it’s difficult to go camping at all,’’ Fred said. ‘‘But, Christina appreciates the doctors and nurses at the hospital, everyone there is really good to her.’’
As a child, Christina had bladder problems and even underwent surgery to correct the problem. Things seemed to improve and she felt better.
‘‘Later, I had to have another surgery because my appendix burst,’’ Christina said. ‘‘After that, things just didn’t seem to get any better. In the winter of 2006, my doctor told me that my kidneys were starting to fail.’’
Then Christina learned about the Kidney Connection, a Web site dedicated to matching living kidney donors to people who are on dialysis and in need of a kidney.
The Kidney Connection was started by Jamestown native Jeanette Ostrom and three other women from western New York — self proclaimed ‘‘Women on a Mission’’ who are all connected to the kidney world, either because they have chronic kidney disease or a family member has chronic kidney disease.
‘‘We have been where you are, anxious and afraid,’’ Mrs. Ostrom tells people with chronic kidney disease. ‘‘We all know that the wait for a kidney from the national waiting list is about four years on average. Many years on dialysis, trying to stay healthy is very difficult — many people die waiting.’’
By founding the Kidney Connection, Mrs. Ostrom and her friends hoped to provide another option. Using the free Web site donors and people chronic kidney disease can write about themselves, download an organ donor card and learn about living kidney donation.
See KIDNEY On Page A-3
For Christina and Fred, the Kidney Connection has provided a light at the end of the tunnel. Christina is currently listed on local web site and also the transplant list at Buffalo General Hospital.
‘‘I can’t wait to receive my transplant because I want to have a normal life again,’’ Christina said. ‘‘I want my body to work properly and I don’t want to be depressed anymore.’’
Kidney transplant surgery can cost nearly $250,000 and dialysis treatments can cost $3,000 per week or more. Thankfully Fred has insurance through his employer at Cummins Engine Plant.
Fred said he would be willing to take part in the kidney exchange program if it would help give his wife a full and complete life, but the exchange program may not be a possibility for him.
‘‘It would take me away from work for to long and I’m not sure we would be able to manage financially,’’ Fred explains. ‘‘Work has been behind me when I needed time to take Christina to doctors and through her recent surgery.’’
The young couple hope that many more people will take a look at the Kidney Connection web site and learn about how they can help.
‘‘There are kind and selfless people in this world who are willing to give to someone in need, asking nothing in return,’’ Mrs. Ostrom said. ‘‘Over the past two years more and more people have received the gift of a kidney from someone who read about their need on line.’’
For more information visit http://www.wnykidneyconnection.org./