There is only so much Dotti Hydue can do. Her step-daughter lives thousands of miles away in northern California and has been struggling lately because of needing a kidney transplant. Hydue reads this column in the Chiefland (Fla.) Citizen.
"It's really hard with me being here and her there because she doesn't have a very good support network," said 63-year-old Hydue of her 50-year-old step-daughter. "She's not one to ask for help, and she's just not asking."
Her step-daughter started having kidney infections and backaches six years ago, but brushed off the warning signs as being due to her constantly having to be on her feet as a hair salon owner. Said Hydue, "By the time she got a diagnosis four years ago, her kidneys were at 17 percent of function. The doctor gave her the choice of immediately getting a kidney transplant, going on dialysis or dying."
She had to choose dialysis because the cadaver kidney donor wait in her area was more than eight years. Since being diagnosed four years ago, she has been on a type of dialysis performed overnight at home while she sleeps.
Hydue said, "One consequence of kidney failure is her fuzzy thinking. Her critical thinking skills just aren't there anymore. She used to be in touch with us all the time, ran her own business, and kept the books for her husband's business. We found out she was on dialysis when our Easter card to her was returned in the mail. It turned out the mailman had quit delivering to her home because she had stopped going to the mailbox. She had been unable to deal with all the letters and magazines accumulating. She lacks basic thinking skills."
Her step-daughter ended up losing her business and livelihood. Hydue wishes she could move out to California to help her step-daughter find a living donor, but life circumstances have prevented her. Though 90,000 Americans are on kidney transplant lists, doctors last year performed only 17,000 kidney transplants. A human being can live safely on only one kidney.
"One thing people can do to help is to sign up through their state to become a (cadaver) organ donor on their driver's license," said Hydue. "It's as easy as signing up when renewing your license. You can also be a living donor, and there are websites through which that can be done."
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