Sitting with Brenda and Kurt Jagler of Sheboygan, it’s easy to see that they have an ebb and flow to their lives. Their 39 years of marriage allows them to easily bounce around in their story, correcting each other’s details, adding an inside joke here and there, and tearing up over some of the more emotional memories. Through it all, their appreciation for their life and the love they have received motivates them to give back and support so many others facing challenges.
Brenda was diagnosed with Lupus at age 16. Living in Sheboygan at a time when medicine and technology was evolving meant Brenda’s family had to go out of state to be treated. Her medications were so intense that she missed a year of high school and was tutored at home. The doctors didn’t believe she would live past age 20 and encouraged her to never have children. Despite an uncertain future, Brenda and Kurt got married, had two children and soon will welcome their fourth grandchild.
Brenda was sick for more than 20 years as her kidney function slowly declined. She finally began dialysis and was placed on the transplant waiting list, but developed a bleed in one of her kidneys. She spent a month in the hospital, and was put in an induced coma at one point. Brenda had to learn to walk again. More than a year went by before she was well enough to be put back on the transplant waiting list. However, she did not receive credit for her accumulated waiting time.
Frustrated by unanswered questions, Kurt began diligently researching options, determined to find a way to help his wife. As fate would have it, he got connected to the National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin. In November, they pointed him in the direction of who to talk to at the transplant center. By December, everything was sorted out and in January, Brenda received her kidney transplant.
“When the call finally came,” said Brenda, “it was strange to think that the transplant was finally happening.” Brenda and Kurt rushed to the hospital ready and waiting for surgery the next morning. The transplant went well, and the team continued to support Brenda and Kurt as they returned for check-ups.
Brenda and Kurt are grateful for the journey they went through, and appreciate where they are now. “When you’re on dialysis, you see people that are much sicker than you,” said Brenda. “Someone would come in and the next day their leg was gone because they had diabetes. Many of the patients died. I learned that you’ve got to stay strong for your kids and for your husband. Every day, feeling better and having my family means the most to me.”