Transplant goal: Always have faith

She didn’ t take well to dialysis and her memories of this period are of feeling very unwell with high blood pressure and vomiting after every dialysis session. She remembers counting every session and asking her mother how many more times she would have do it, to which her mother always replied “one more time”. As she was so unwell she was forced to leave school and didn’t even have the strength to go out and play with her friends.

When she was 14 years old her father donated her one of his kidneys, but after only one month the kidney had to be removed and Maria Rosaria had no choice but to return to dialysis. Things weren’t easy, but there were good moments too, in fact Maria Rosaria’s happiest memories from this period are of meeting Michele who then went on to become her boyfriend, and much more besides. When Maria Rosaria was eighteen her aunt gave her a kidney and finally a new life began for Maria Rosaria.  

Having lost so much time at school over the years, she can no longer fulfil her dream of becoming a beautician, and now her greatest wish is to get married and have a family. Happily this wish comes true and when she is 21 Maria Rosaria marries her childhood sweetheart Michele. Just a few months after the wedding, totally unexpectedly, Maria Rosaria’s doctors tell her she is expecting a baby. She can hardly believe her ears – a miracle has happened! Maria Rosaria is over the moon, and for the first time in her life she feels complete as a person, and as a woman. In the 32nd week of pregnancy Maria Rosaria goes into early labour, it’s a difficult birth, but in the end a beautiful healthy baby girl is born – Margherita, a new hope for Maria Rosaria!

Maria Rosaria feels very happy and fulfilled in her new role as wife and mother, but further challenges lie ahead. When she is 29 her body unexpectedly rejects the transplanted kidney and she has to return to dialysis. And at around the same time her older brother sadly dies. Despite all these difficulties Maria Rosaria keeps her positive outlook and never loses her inner smile. No one in her family can give her a new kidney, but Maria Rosaria still hopes for another transplant. Her chances of having another successful transplant are lower now because the previous two transplants mean her body has a high number of auto-antibodies and there is therefore a higher risk of rejection. However the medical and nursing staff of Maria Rosaria’s NephroCare dialysis centre support and encourage her to sign up for the transplant list again. Maria Rosaria has great faith in them and agrees with the medical and therapy decisions they make for her, so her name is put on the register of Italian transplant centres that accept hyper immune patients. There’s no guarantee, but Maria Rosaria never loses hope and keeps on smiling!

Great things happen unexpected

For 15 years the medical and nursing staff of the NephroCare centre in Soccavo, in the heart of Naples, Italy, take care of Maria Rosaria as she continues her dialysis therapy. In all these long years Maria Rosaria’s doctors and nurses never once see her down hearted because of her illness. In fact, the only time they ever see her shed a tear is on her 40th birthday. On that special day, the staff surprise Maria Rosaria during her treatment session with a huge cake and 40 candles. She is completely overwhelmed by this gesture of affection and is moved to tears!  

Then on the 11th March of this year, a call arrives completely out of the blue … there’s a kidney for Maria Rosaria!  

It’s a huge and totally unexpected surprise and emotions are running high, but the medical and nursing staff of the dialysis centre all rally together and help Maria Rosaria get to the transplant centre where a new kidney, and her third transplant, are waiting for her. The transplant operation goes well, but the new kidney only starts working after three weeks and Maria Rosaria also has to contend with recurring urinary tract infections and a virus infection. It’s not easy, but Maria Rosaria remains calm and determined, and her patience pays off: very soon she is back at home, ready to start another new phase in her life. Several months have now passed since her transplant and Maria Rosaria is fit, well, and above all very happy. She has weekly check-ups and knowing how important it is that her body doesn’t reject the new kidney, she makes sure that she takes the transplant medication exactly as indicated by her medical team. She no longer has to worry about dialysis, but still goes to her NephroCare centre regularly as the doctors there serve as contacts to Maria Rosaria’s transplant centre.

What a change to her life!

Maria Rosaria has started driving again, she takes her grandson out for walks and can now concentrate on being a full-time grandmother! She takes pleasure in enjoying the simple things in life. Now, more than anything, she wants to enjoy being with her family and watch her grandson grow up. She’s also very happy that she now has more time to dedicate to her voluntary work. In all the years that Maria Rosaria was on dialysis, her thoughts were always with those less fortunate than herself. She always takes the time to help others, accompanying an old person to the doctors, doing the shopping for a poor person, keeping a bed-ridden person company, cooking for a neighbour, or going to pay the bills for an old man. Maria Rosaria says “Doing these little things doesn’t cost me a thing, but they can make a big difference to someone who is sick, old or on their own. Helping other people makes me feel very fortunate, and it gives me the strength to carry on despite my own illness.”

Always believe in yourself

The staff of NephroCare´s dialysis centre in Soccavo are delighted for Maria Rosaria. For 15 years she has been part of their lives as they accompanied her through all the ups and down of her incredible journey! And this mutual journey doesn’t stop with the transplant: the Nephro- Care staff continue to provide her with medical support and will always be there for Maria Rosaria, a special patient whose determination, positive attitude and warm smile are a lesson to us all. The staff fondly remember that before her transplant, when Maria Rosaria’s dialysis sessions finished she used to stay in her chair while all the other patients were leaving, then, reaching into her bag she’d smile broadly and say “So, now it’s time for a bit of make-up, because dialysis shouldn’t stop me looking good!”. During her 15 years at NephroCare in Soccavo, Maria Rosaria has taught the staff many things. She has shown them that even a person with a chronic illness can find the right balance, and despite the challenges, instead of feeling sorry for herself can find the will and inner strength to do everything possible to lead a happy and fulfilling life. “Hope and determination are the best possible medicine, and we should always support and nurture the hopes and dreams of our patients”, says Medical Director, Dr. Valeria Di Stasio. Never give up hope ... always believe in yourself and help yourself to a better future!