Share your spare: Friends help longtime Craig resident with search for living kidney donation
For 41 years, Craig physical therapist Chris Trujillo served the health care needs of patients in Northwest Colorado, and now her family and friends are hoping residents can find someone to help with Trujillo’s serious health care need.
After managing her likely inherited condition of polycystic kidney disease for nine years, Trujillo’s test results in July showed a turn toward the worst. Both of her kidneys, which filter waste from the blood, are failing. Doctors say she now needs a kidney transplant, and transplant success results can be improved with a living kidney donor.
Trujillo’s husband, Delbert, and close friends Kerry and Frank Moe of Craig kicked off a professional-level campaign last month to raise awareness about living kidney donations. Their efforts so far include flyers, yard signs, a website, online advertisements and billboards. More information is available at Kidney4Chris.org.
“I feel amazingly blessed that I have friends who are willing to do this for me,” Trujillo said.
The campaign’s inspiration was the statistic shared by experts that 70% of patients in need of a transplant do not ask one person they know if they would consider donating.
The Craig campaign is spreading the word for both Trujillo and other patients’ transplant needs, but so far no one has been a match for the retired physical therapist. Trujillo is on the national transplant wait list, but most people wait three to five years for a kidney.
As a “pretty private person,” Trujillo, 66, is not overjoyed about seeing her picture posted across the Yampa Valley, but she knows she is in the fight of her life.
“When I found out that 70% of the patients on the kidney transplant waiting list have not asked one family member, friend or community member to consider becoming a living kidney donor for them, I knew I had to speak up for myself and become a spokesperson for the others to help educate the public concerning living kidney donorship,” Trujillo explained.
“It is extremely humbling and somewhat embarrassing to see my Kidney4Chris.org signs up all over town, but I wanted to let you all know how much I appreciate your rallying around me in my quest to find a living kidney donor,” Trujillo noted. “Dealing with inherited polycystic kidney disease has been extremely challenging for me and my family.”
Trujillo explained that her living kidney donor match markers are rare. Even her brother, longtime Steamboat Springs resident Jim Comeau, is not a match.
People considering becoming a living kidney donor must be 18 or older and in good health with normal kidney function. Donors cannot have conditions such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, hepatitis or acute infections, according to the National Kidney Foundation at Kidney.org. Donors can live a long, healthy life with one kidney. Living donor surgery is often completed laparoscopically, and the cost is covered by the recipient’s health insurance.
Alexander Wiseman with the AdventHealth Transplant Institute said more than 1,000 people in Colorado are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant across the three adult transplant centers in the state. Wiseman said approximately 450 kidney transplants take place in Colorado each year, with about 150 of those from living kidney donors.
Trujillo is hoping to avoid the confines of kidney dialysis, which if done in a clinic setting, would mean three trips per week to Grand Junction for four-hour sessions. According to the National Kidney Foundation, hemodialysis might be done at home through daily or nocturnal treatments. So far, Trujillo is not in need of dialysis.
She said a kidney transplant would allow her to spend more time with her husband of 33 years as well as her son, Tucker, and daughter Megan’s family including three grandchildren.
Delbert Trujillo, a Craig native and retired coal miner, gets emotional when asked about his wife’s condition, but he said he is not scared.
“It’s sometimes overwhelming,” he said. “I know it’s in the Lord’s hands, so whatever happens we’ll deal with it.”
Although Trujillo had routine blood testing through the years, it was not until she underwent total knee replacement surgery in 2013 that a complete blood workup was ordered preoperatively. The tests found an elevated creatinine level in her blood. According to Mayo Clinic, a creatinine test measures how well kidneys are performing the job of filtering waste from blood.
Trujillo encouraged others not to overlook blood tests and any borderline results that may raise questions.
For now, Trujillo said her job is to stay as healthy as possible and wait as patiently as possible.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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