Waiting for a Kidney Transplant: Tyler’s Story

Tyler Jenkins, kidney wait list candidate

When Tyler was 16 years old, he was diagnosed with kidney failure. He was put on hemodialysis 3 days a week, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, allowing Tyler to continue his high school classes and live his life as normally as possible while in dialysis. Unfortunately, the treatments often caused other symptoms including high blood pressure, headaches and nausea, causing him to often miss school following dialysis.

Tyler tried his best to hide his condition from classmates, as he didn’t want anyone to know how sick he was, but as he grew thinner and continued to miss school, his classmates began to notice his failing health.

In 2009, Tyler was diagnosed with Wegener’s Disease, a very rare (but treatable) disease affecting many different organs and systems of the body, including the kidneys. In November of 2010, Tyler started a different type of dialysis at home. He thought this would be better because he would be able to do dialysis at home each night as he slept and still be able to go hang out with his friends during the day. That didn’t work out as planned, and Tyler had to increase his dialysis treatments to six times a day, totaling about 9 to 9 1/2 hours.

Tyler tries to stay positive during dialysis treatments

Through hard work and dedication, Tyler was able to graduate high school in June and will start college in the fall. His dream is to ultimately enter into the medical field so he can help others. Until now, he has not wanted anyone to know how sick he is and that his kidneys are not functioning, but his family is adamant about telling his story as his health continues to decline in hopes to bring attention to the desperate need for organ donation.

Tyler has been evaluated and listed for a kidney transplant through The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and while family members have been evaluated to be a living donor for Tyler, none of his immediate relatives have compatible blood types. His family hopes and prays a compatible match for Tyler will be found soon as they know time is precious for those in acute kidney failure. Several years ago, Tyler’s older sister, Lauren, passed away at the age of 12 due to kidney failure that had gone undiagnosed.

“He is my grandson. We all have parents, siblings, children, nieces, nephews, granddaughters, grandsons, and friends who may need help at one time or another,” said Judy Waller, Tyler’s grandmother. “Let me tell you as a Grandmother, there is no better feeling than when you feel that unconditional love for your grandchild; and no worse feeling than when you lose a grandchild.”

With more than 111,800 individuals waiting for life-saving organ transplants in the United States, approximately 80% of those people are waiting for a kidney transplant. On a local level, about 76% of the 2,000+ Marylanders waiting for organ transplants are waiting for kidneys. Many people seem to think there are plenty of organs to go around to fulfill this need, but the truth is, there are not. The waiting list for organs continues to grow, even with an average of 18 people dying each day because they don’t receive the transplant needed to save their life.

What can you do to help Tyler and others on the transplant waiting list?

  • Sign up as a donor and encourage others to do so also. If you are a Maryland resident, you may sign up as an organ donor at www.donatelifemaryland.org. If you reside in a state other than Maryland, visit www.donatelife.net to find your state’s online registry.
  • Be evaluated as a possible living donor. If you are seriously interested in becoming a living donor, you may contact The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s transplant program (http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/transplant) at 410- 955-5045, or University of Maryland Medical Center’s Division of Transplantation (http://www.umm.edu/transplant/) at 410-328-5408.

About Lauren

Lauren Muskauski is the communications associate at The Living Legacy Foundation. She heads up many community outreach initiatives and projects, with a focus on middle school, high school and college outreach. She also manages The LLF’s and Donate Life Maryland’s presence on social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook. Lauren’s commitment to donation started early when she registered as an organ, eye and tissue donor at the MVA upon receiving her first drivers’ license, but was then reinforced a few years later when her father passed away while waiting for a liver transplant. Now, she continues to be inspired on a daily basis by the generosity of donors and their families, as well as the gratitude exhibited by every recipient she meets.
This entry was posted in Community Outreach, Transplant Hospitals, Transplant Recipients. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Waiting for a Kidney Transplant: Tyler’s Story

  1. I am a I am a Grandmother and praying for your entire family! says:

    My prayers are with you.

  2. I am Tyler’s Aunt Shirley and we all love him very much.We were all so heartbroken when we heard of his diagnosis.We know the pain and sorrow we all felt when his sister,our beloved Lauren,passed away.I was so proud that I was able to donate one of my kidneys to her.I feel that it was a sucessful transplant,although Lauren endured other complications,making it impossible to keep her new kidney.My wish would be that everyone would seriously think about being a live kidney donor.It does not pose any longterm problems for the donor as long as they are healthy.Indepth testing is done beforehand,insuring that it is safe to proceed.It was ,by far,the best feeling for me to be able to give this gift.I love my brother and his family so much,and if I could,I’d do it all over again.

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