Born with polycystic kidney disease, Michele Stewart has not let that stop her from living a fulfilling and positive life.
Polycystic kidney disease occurs when a cluster of cysts develop within the kidneys, causing enlarged kidneys and loss of function over time. Other symptoms include high blood pressure, back and side pain and a swollen abdomen.
Michele first encountered problems with her kidneys in 1985 when she was 23 years old, when one started to bleed, resulting in surgery and one third of her kidney being removed.
“At first there wasn’t any major impact from the surgery, but I did develop high blood pressure and in 2006 I had a fistula put in my leg to prepare me for dialysis,” Michele said.
When a patient undertakes dialysis, a fistula is created in their leg or arm, meaning two blood vessels are connected. During dialysis, two needles are inserted, and blood is taken out and filtered through a machine that cleans the blood, before it is given back to patients.
“I started dialysis in 2007 for three days a week for three and a half hours.”
Michele’s family took it in turns taking her to dialysis and her loving mother Judith said Michele’s positive mindset is what helped her through.
“Over time Michele got used to the dialysis and her attitude is what helped her through the long days. She still worked throughout her dialysis and maintained a healthy lifestyle, changing her diet and eating foods that agreed with her body,” Judith said.
Michele received an incredible amount of support from her loving family, and both sisters Lyn and
Angie even nominated themselves to donate their kidney, but unfortunately, they did not pass the assessment process.
After 16 months of dialysis, Michele got a life-changing call from her doctor and on 29 January 2009, Michele underwent a kidney transplant at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
“The recovery from the transplant was instant and the change has been amazing,” Judith said.
Michele adds: “Before the transplant I used to get really tired easily and would need to nap during the day. Now I feel a lot better and have higher energy levels!”
An avid traveler, since her transplant Michele has been on many holidays, including cruises and travelling overseas to New Zealand.
Judith Gives Back
After seeing what her daughter has gone through, Judith now supports Kidney, Transplant and Diabetes Research Australia (KTDRA) through regular giving!
“I’ve seen the impact Michele’s transplant has had on her life and I know the only way forward is with research,” Judith said.
“As we celebrate Michele’s continuing good health, we always remember the gift made by the donor family. This is especially so on the anniversary of her transplant.”