Ger: Thankful for a Second Chance
Ger Xiong’s journey to a kidney transplant began in 2003 when she was pregnant with her third child. At the beginning of her third trimester, she suddenly experienced high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia, triggering some loss of kidney function. Subsequent pregnancies caused more harm to her kidneys. By September 2017, Ger was suffering from end stage renal disease (kidney failure) and began dialysis because her kidneys were only functioning at 3%.
During this time, Ger continued to live life as the on-the-go, the positive person she is, and was still able to work full-time at her job. She brought her work laptop and phone with her while she received dialysis treatments and didn’t miss a beat! Undergoing dialysis several times a week for hours at a time was the only way to keep her body chemically balanced by removing waste, salt, potassium and water. Although grateful that kidney dialysis could help her until she received a transplant, Ger recalled how she was one of the youngest patients receiving dialysis and she didn’t want kidney dialysis to define her future.
Ger was listed for a kidney transplant at a Wisconsin transplant center in 2017. She was placed on the national organ transplant waiting list but also asked to search for a living kidney donor. She knew that she had to speak up and ask for help—otherwise no one would know that she was looking for a living kidney donor. People who knew Ger would have been surprised to learn that she was actually very ill. People suffering with end stage renal disease may not “look ill.” Ger relayed that asking people in your community to donate a kidney is a hard thing to do.
Fortunately, Ger’s quest for a living donor was aided by the help of friends, colleagues and local publicity. Several people stepped up to be tested. A high school teacher in Manitowoc was tested, yet donated to someone else that was a better match. A friend of Ger’s was also tested, matched and donated directly to Ger in June of 2018. Ger wasn’t even aware that this friend had been tested so it was a total surprise to learn that they were a good match. The publicity for Ger‘s search for a living kidney donor actually helped two people receive kidney transplants and the gift of hope!
Ger is so grateful for this second chance! Not only is she a busy mom, she is more active than ever! Ger acts as a mentor on social media to others who need a kidney transplant and belongs to a special group of living kidney donors and recipients in Fond du Lac – Share Your Spare. Ger speaks with confidence about her transplant experience to encourage others to consider living kidney donation.
Ger is very aware of the high rate of high blood pressure, kidney disease and kidney failure in the Hmong community. Ger advises her community to have their blood pressure checked and to advocate for the medical support they need. Ger feels that there are many elders who would benefit from a kidney transplant. She is concerned that they will refuse a living kidney donation from one of their children or a relative if they matched. It’s Ger’s opinion that when a person loves you and wants to donate a kidney to you, you should let them help you. Ger wants everyone to experience more time, more celebrations and more customs with their family.