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The long wait

November 16, 2006

Moultrie/Albany - Today, there are 94,019 people on the waiting list for an organ of some type in America alone. The most needed organ?  The kidney, and there are about 1,500 people waiting for one in Georgia. But the patients must raise money, just to get on that list.

Four years ago, Charles Aud's kidneys failed.  He says, "I didn't take care of myself." A reality that caught up with him. You see, Charles was diagnosed with diabetes at just five years old. He knew the risks of over indulgence, but ignored them. "If I wanted a candy bar," he says, "I had three or four.  If I wanted a coke, I didn't have a glass, I drank a two liter."

Since the day his body shut down, the 40-year-old spends most of his spare time here, at the Colquitt Regional Dialysis Clinic in Moultrie. "Every other day, Monday, Wednesday and Friday I'm here."

The machines do what his body no longer can.  He says, "It basically keeps fluid off of me and the poisons out of my system so I stay alive." Alive, but unable to really live.

"I've noticed other people who've had transplants, it really improves their quality of life." And what he's seen in those patients made him decide it was time for a transplant of his own.

Charles says, "Last time I checked there were 19,000 people waiting for some type of transplant.  All had to raise money." Charles must raise a minimum of $5,000 just to get on the list. Nephrologist Jeffrey Bell says that's because transplant centers have lost too many patients who received organs, and then had them fail because they couldn't afford the medications.  Dr. Bell says, "Harsh reality, but it is a lesson learned the hard way unfortunately."

Once Charles raises the money, he must undergo extensive testing to prove his body can handle a transplant, and only then will he be placed on the list. That's when the waiting really begins.  Dr. Bell says, "It's not unusual to wait two years." But it could take even longer. That's because the need for organs, far outweighs the amount of donors.

"We would do a lot more transplants if more people would donate," says Dr. Bell. "It is such an important gift to society, the gift of life." A gift that can be realized even through the death of another.  Dr. Bell says, "I have seen it salvage some of the sadness of a tragedy." Because when a transplant is successful, he says, "it's just a rebirth when a kidney does start working."

But even with surgery Charles says, "there is no guarantee the transplant will take." Though the odds are improving with immune rejection drugs. The only problem is that those medications can cost several thousand dollars each month, for the rest of the patient's life.

Dr. Bell says, "The medications are hugely expensive. Worth every penny, hugely expensive though."

If Charles doesn't get the transplant and the meds, he may not die, dialysis will keep him alive, but he still won't live the life he's dreaming.  He says, "My main goal right now is to see my son graduate high school and that's four years away."

So he's doing whatever he can to get his body in proper working order for a transplant, and raising the money to get on the list. Charles wants to be a success story. He wants, well, I'll let him tell you.  He says, "I want to be one of those transplant patients that, excuse me, pees on their Doctor. They say they love it when their patients do that, because they know the kidney's taking."

Taking him from a life of imprisonment in his own body to a rebirth through money, medicine and the miracle of organ transplantation.

As of Thursday, Charles Aud has raised almost all of the $5,000 needed, he's only about $215 short.

Unfortunately, Charles Aud's story is not unique.  To find out more about organ donation and transplants, click here.

 

comments: news@walb.com?subject=WaitingForOrgans/KC

 

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