(BPT) – Kindness spreads kindness. Unexpected kindness, while often surprising, has the potential to heal and change a life.
The trajectory of 38-year-old Rebecca Barcenas’ life has been forever changed by unexpected kindness. A mother of two girls, she was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease during her second pregnancy. Her kidneys failed a year later.
Over the next eight years, Barcenas received life-sustaining dialysis treatment four hours a day, three days per week at DaVita University Dialysis of Indy in Indianapolis, where she was introduced to Toni Brown, licensed clinical social worker, whose role it is to educate dialysis patients on transplants. She also leaned on her faith to help her through the ups and downs of her disease.
“I don’t know where I’d be without my priest,” said Barcenas. “The staff at St. Philip Neri know everything about my family and the challenges I’ve faced. When I missed a few of my daughter’s holiday performances, they reached out to help. They gave me faith to keep going.”
During her dialysis treatments, Brown and Barcenas discussed Barcenas’ future.
A kidney transplant is the best treatment option for eligible patients with end-stage kidney disease. Outside of her kidneys, Barcenas is very healthy. But her immigration status posed some challenges. She provided updated, official documentation of her visa, which was initially denied by her transplant center. When that happened, Brown got to work.
“I just started calling the transplant center, two, three days a week, every week, I wouldn’t take no for an answer,” relayed Brown.
As Brown made her calls, Barcenas’ priest and parish staff did the same. The barrage of communication paid off. Barcenas was officially referred for a kidney transplant evaluation in July 2019. By that December, she had connected and matched with a living donor. Suddenly, after years of waiting, Barcenas had a path forward.
“Advocating for others shouldn’t be unexpected,” said Brown. “They’re sick and going through so much.”
The road to a new kidney was still a little bumpy for Barcenas. Her transplant was postponed twice — first following a bout with anemia and then due to COVID-19 restrictions. Finally, the surgery took place, successfully, on May 14, 2020.
Years of struggle behind her, Barcenas is hopeful of what’s to come. Warm spring days perfect for long bike rides. Spending time with her daughters and watching them perform in their school Christmas plays. Working again. And as the heart of the holiday season approaches, she’s grateful for the unexpected kindness she’s received and plans to return the favor.
According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, 99,316 people in the U.S. are currently waiting for a kidney transplant.1 The average wait time for a kidney from the national deceased donor waiting list is five years.2
Remaining engaged and on-track for a transplant during that waiting period is critical. DaVita, a leader in clinical quality in kidney care for more than 20 years, has designed a comprehensive, multimedia education platform to guide patients through the transplant process. Featuring motivating peer-to-peer videos and animations, Transplant Smart® informs patients and their loved ones about what to expect at every stage of their transplant journey.
To learn more about kidney transplants or giving the gift of life as a living donor, visit DaVita.com/Transplant.
1. United Network for Organ Sharing website. https://www.unos.org/data/transplant-trends/. Based on OPTN data as of Dec. 8, 2020
2. American Kidney Fund website. https://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-disease/kidney-failure/treatment-of-kidney-failure/kidney-transplant/transplant-waitlist/. Dec. 2020