At age 16, Maelea Damewood thought she was ill with strep throat, but when she went into the doctor for a check-up, labs were taken and it was found that her Creatinine was not normal. At just 16, Maelea was diagnosed with renal failure.
On July 15, 2008 Maelea was put on dialysis. Luckily, Maelea was able to receive her dialysis in Creston, Iowa, which was a shorter drive and was where her mother worked. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for five months, Maelea would get hooked up to a dialysis machine for three hours at a time.
"While I was sitting for three hours, I worked on homework the best I could, but there was not much room to work, so it was a little rough. When I got done with dialysis I was always so tired and cold."
Maelea's family was very helpful during her renal failure. Her father wanted to donate a kidney to her, but unfortunately wasn't a match. Her mother was also unable to donate to Maelea because she also had renal failure and had two transplants. Finally, Maelea found someone who was able to donate a kidney. Her aunt was a match, and surgery was scheduled.
As the date of the transplant approached, Maelea continued dialysis. On November 30, 2008 she received a big surprise. Maelea received news that she would be able to receive a cadaveric transplant. On December 1, Maelea underwent the transplant. Her surgery was performed by Dr. Cass Franklin.
"I felt like a new person after my transplant," Maelea said.
After spending a week in the hospital, Maelea was sent home. After about three more weeks of recovering at home, she was back to being a healthy teenager and went back to school after Christmas break.
Now, at 19-years-old, Maelea is back to full health and visits the Transplant Center every four months. Maelea and her mother, who had her second transplant with the Transplant Center, both say they have had an excellent experience at the Transplant Center.