30 years on dialysis: Milena

“I try to live like healthy people live.”

Milena Vrbljanac was born in 1960 in a small city in Bosnia and Herzegovina half an hour south of Banja Luka and first experienced kidney problems when she was 29.

The NephroCare world is full of inspiring and motivating life stories. And even if every patient is different we know: each one of these life stories helps our patients to make the most of their lives in spite of their challenges.

The story of Milena Vrbljanac is one of these stories. With more than 30 years of living with dialysis she really knows what it takes to keep a positive attitude towards life.

Accepting dialysis

In other words: At age 61, she has been on dialysis for more than half of her life. And as you can imagine some of these years weren’t easy. But Milena knew what to do. In her view, she only had two options – to “not accept life with dialysis and move towards a certain end, or to accept dialysis and start this fight called life.”

You know what she chose – life. After four months she received a kidney transplant. There was one problem though: “As much as I was determined to fight and live – I could not give up water.” The transplanted kidney simply “got tired” after ten years.

Dignity restored

Her memories of dialysis in Banja Luka aren’t all good – conditions were challenging and she remembers “a dark basement, old appliances and a heater that took a long time warming up before it would get started.” But things improved dramatically in 2001 when the new clinic opened with “new welcoming rooms, new appliances, kind nurses and dedicated staff.

Her approach to life is as simple as it is ambitious: “I try to live like healthy people live.” She feels that dialysis has finally given her the opportunity to live with dignity. She says of herself: “I move, I go out, I live actively and I still fight. And I take care of my diet.” One thing remained to be a bit of a struggle for her though
– she still needs to try and reduce the amount of water she drinks.