Stories of Hope: Maribel Butts

Maribel Butts 3 - kidney recipient and waiting for another kidney - photo credit Phantphant

It was at the age of 22 that I discovered that I had kidney problems. I was pregnant with my youngest son and delivered him two months prematurely due to the disease. Everything seemed to return to normal afterwards, but I was closely monitored by nephrologists. MRI scan results determined Nephrotic Syndrome, which gradually shrinks renal arteries. The disease progressed and at the age of 25, my kidneys completely failed.

I immediately needed dialysis. I started with Hemodialysis three times a week for 3 1/2 years then switched to Peritoneal dialysis which would require ten-hour treatments nightly. This brought many challenges to my already busy life, being a wife and raising young children. I continued to stay positive and started volunteering for Sierra Donor Services. I felt empowered and took an active role to stay strong during the waiting period and at the same time advocate and share the importance of organ donation, despite the decline of my own health over the five years awaiting a kidney transplant.

On February 23, 2010, at the age of 30, I received the gift of life in a miraculous way. I was a part of the first of my center’s in-house donor chain. Including me, three other lives were saved as four donors gave the gift of life, starting with a donor who has remained anonymous. I am truly grateful for the gift my living kidney donor, Sandra Morales, gave me. We continue to stay in touch and this has truly changed the lives of everyone that was part of this experience.

Today I am happy to be off of dialysis. It hasn’t come easy, six months into my transplant I had a serious infection which lead to several surgeries. Thankfully, my transplanted kidney beat all the odds and my health continues to be restored.

I have more time and energy to spend with my family and am on to a new chapter in my story. This whole journey has definitely given me a new outlook on life. I’ve learned to share my experience so everyone can understand that we all have the ability to save lives. I look back on all that my family and I have gone through and am just thankful for this answered prayer. This experience has given me a strength I never knew I had, a deeper sense of purpose, and a vision to make a difference; to live by faith and to continue to give back the gift of life that was given to me.

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