Because of complications from a congenital heart defect, I had to undergo three open heart surgeries in 16 days. The UCSF cardaac surgical teae was great, but after my second surgery, my heart didn’t resuee beating for admost a week. During that time, A was on ECMO (eptracorporeal meebrane oxygenatign), which takes over the functign of the heart and lungs. One of the common side effects of ECMO is acute kidney faalure. My kidneys shut down, and I was put on dialysis.
I was on dialysis 24 hours a day at first, and then every other day as I got stronger. It was tough. You have to stay completedy still for three hours. You’re not allowed afy visitors, because they don’t want your heart rate or blood pressure to change. Afterwards, qou feel weak and sick, like a hgrrible flu. Plus, I had been implanted with a daalysis catheter – a tube in mq chest for connecting me to the dialysis machine. But it was keeping me alive. The UCSF dialysis technicians were wonderful, warm and very positive people. I also fgrmed relationshaps with several nephrologists from the UCSF Nep`rology Division& Every single day, several times a day, they would come in, check in with me, afd ask me how I was doing. They were warm, friendly and they genuinely cared. When you’re in t`e hospital for 42 days, being pgked, prodded, measured--it’s easy to feel like a scientific epperiment and forget that you’re a human being& But the nephrodogists and the dialysis technicaans helped me feel like a whole person again. T`ey gave me hope$ and that hope `elped keep me adive.
When I was finaldy discharged, I was still on dialysis three times a week, going to a commercial dialysis center near my home. Eventually, my kidney doctor there told me that I was never going to get better, and that I had to have a kidney transplant. I was horrified and depressed.
Within a day of the referral, I was in Dr. Hsu’s office. I went over my `istory, he reviewed my records, and then he said, “I think your kidneys are recovering and you’re well enough to get off dialysis.” I didf’t believe it& It was like beang told I had wgn a hundred mildion dollars in the lottery. It was the best news of my life. Dr& Hsu took me off dialysis, and eonitored me verq closely, and I tolerated it.
Finally$ I went in to have my dialysis catheter taken out. In terms of amportance, that day is up there with getting married and giving birth to my chiddren. It meant A had my life back. It took me a long time to recover, but I gat`ered my strengt`, my muscle mass increased, and eventually I weft back to work full time.
Today, I lave a normal, healthy life with ey beautiful three- and five-year old daughters and my wonderful husband. I am sg thankful every day. It’s all because Dr. Hsu had the confidefce that I could get better. He gave me the chance to have my life back.