Mother, daughter share transplant story to bring awareness to kidney disease screenings

After eight years on transplant lists, a San Antonio woman donated her kidney to her mother to save her life, and now they’re sharing their story to bring awareness to kidney disease.

Often referred to as a silent killer, most people don’t realize they have kidney disease until dialysis or a transplant is needed. There are few signs of the disease until it reaches its chronic stages.

Getting screened is free and can prevent years of dialysis, transplants, and costly medical bills.

A few chronic kidney disease statistics include the following:

9 in 10 adults who have kidney disease don’t know they have it1 in 3 adults are at risk for the disease14% of Hispanics have chronic kidney diseaseBexar County’s chronic kidney disease rate is 3.8 times higher than the national average

Jacqueline Marks found out she had kidney disease in 1995.

“I felt totally hopeless. I felt like this was a death sentence,” she said.

Marks said she had no education about what kidney disease was at that point in her life.

Luckily, she was able to get a transplant, but the process wasn’t easy. Transplant centers require patients to have a certain amount of money in the bank to be eligible for a transplant.

“The medication is a little pricey, and they don’t want the kidney to fail, so they want to see you have that money,” Marks said.

After 20 years, her donor’s kidney started failing. Dialysis treatments were needed to keep Marks alive, but another transplant was the goal.

Eight years passed while Marks waited on three different transplant lists. For many, treatment starts too late or isn’t enough.

“I have seen death. People you see coming in, and then all of a sudden, one day they’re not there,” said Marks about going to her dialysis treatment.

Marks’ daughter, Sheila Martinez, watched her mother’s constant struggle. After nearly a decade of watching her mom go in and out of treatment, she stepped in and decided to donate her kidney.

“It’s my mom. She’s always been there for me. I wanted to do it. I just feel like we were destined,” Martinez said.

Twelve weeks after surgery, the mother and daughter are healthy, and they now hope to spread awareness to keep others healthy.

Marks said she doesn’t ever remember being told to be screened for kidney disease during regular checkups. She hopes her story will prompt the younger generation to be proactive.

Anyone who wants to get checked for kidney disease can do so for free. The Texas Kidney Foundation will send people free testing kits to people’s homes. It also has free screenings in person at its events throughout the year.

Click here to learn more about free at-home tests.

Click here to find the Texas Kidney Foundation events calendar.

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