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As her abdomen throbbed and her lungs struggled to fill, Fitz drove herself to the emergency room. In the weeks prior, she’d been in a constant state of fatigue. It had gotten so bad that she’d resorted to taking small naps several times daily, even during her work breaks.

In the ER, Fitz’s blood pressure measured double a normal reading. She was admitted immediately. A nurse herself, she recognized her symptoms. She feared she was in kidney failure due to her type 1 diabetes. When her left kidney was biposed, the results revealed that she was indeed in severe kidney failure but that diabetes hadn’t caused it. Instead, Fitz had a rare kidney disease. With her kidneys only functioning at 5%, she was in such dire need of dialysis that a catheter was placed in her chest that same day. She’d stay eight more days in the hospital—isolated in her room without visitors due to COVID restrictions.

Fitz needed a kidney transplant. Having diabetes made her eligible for a pancreas transplant, too. While both could happen in the same surgery, it was impossible to know if it would be weeks or months before the organs became available, if they did at all.

With bills piling, Fitz had no choice but to continue to work. When she wasn’t working remotely from her dialysis appointments, she was providing direct patient care on the frontlines of the pandemic. Like so many, she shouldered the immense psychological burden of worrying she’d contract COVID, knowing if she did that her immune system, weakened by dialysis, might not be strong enough to fight it.

Almost a year after that ER visit, her phone rang in the middle of the night. Less than 24 hours and 16-inch incision later, Fitz had finally received a healthy kidney and pancreas. Look at how she smiled in the recovery room!

Image Description: In Fitz’s own words, “Immediately after dual organ transplant after 7 hours in surgery/recovery and back in my room. 16.5” incision in my abdomen!!”

We, through Together Rising, supported Fitz during this scary and expensive time. Our direct grant helped cover outstanding medical bills, transportation, masks, and food.

In her thank you, she shared not only her hope for her future but also her hope for all of us:

“I hope you all know how much I care and love you all and appreciate the help during this time in my life. I am forever grateful.”