Delavan kidney recipient, donor drawn together by friendship
DELAVAN They’re not joined at the hip, although family and friends might argue that point.
Monica Bahaveolos and Liesje Howard share something stronger, something deeper.
(Read all of this week's stories from Walworth County Sunday HERE. )
On Dec. 28, Bahaveolos underwent a successful kidney transplant at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa. Howard was the donor.
Both women are doing fine, and the future looks bright, but they know that the journey was half the battle, especially for Bahaveolos, 46.
She and husband, John, moved to Delavan from Tinley Park, Ill., five years ago, having no idea that the consequences of two difficult pregnancies would surface, at least not so soon.
“I had six to eight weeks of bed rest with both of my children,” Bahaveolos said of Nico, 15, and Tina, 13. “I nearly died after giving birth to my daughter, and doctors told me that I could have kidney issues later.
“But I didn’t think it was anything to worry about, and I didn’t think ‘older’ meant at age 45,” Bahaveolos added. “I pretty much forgot about it and was feeling good.”
However, a routine doctor’s visit in spring 2010 revealed high creatinine levels, and in turn, raised a red flag for possible kidney issues.
Creatinine is a chemical waste molecule generated from muscle metabolism and transported through the bloodstream to the kidneys. The kidneys then, like with other waste products, filter out most of the creatinine.
A subsequent visit to a kidney specialist confirmed the worst: eventual dialysis and placement on the donor waiting list.
Bahaveolos began her daily, nine-hour dialysis regimen in April 2011, choosing peritoneal dialysis, which she could do at home every night. A plastic catheter was inserted into her abdomen, and the cycling machine did its filtering job while she slept.
Despite the reprieve, Bahaveolos knew some day that dialysis would no longer remain an option. But again, the unexpected -- and extraordinary -- occurred.