MINERAL RIDGE Brother will donate kidney to ailing sister
Marilyn Vega now must go to dialysis three times a week.
By SEAN BARRON
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
MINERAL RIDGE -- Eddie Vega was tired of seeing his sister suffer.
So last April, he set out to make life easier for her.
Marilyn Vega was shocked, though, by what he decided to do.
"I want her to enjoy life like I do," he said quietly. "I gave it a lot of thought," he said of his decision to donate a kidney to her.
Eddie Vega, 33, remembered when, 14 years ago, his sister was hospitalized for abnormal bleeding in the pelvic area. He was devastated when her blood work revealed she had a rare kidney disease, he said.
Ailment: Marilyn Vega, now 39, was diagnosed 14 years ago with glomerulonephritis, a disease in which lesions form in the globular structures of the kidney, the areas that filter impurities from the bloodstream.
Her symptoms included swelling in the legs, high blood pressure and frequent headaches. She also had numerous bladder infections from urine backing up into her kidneys.
The disease affected both kidneys, one of which had to be removed nine days after her diagnosis.
She now goes for dialysis three times a week, four hours each day. If successful, the transplant would mean the end of dialysis treatments if she takes her medications properly, Marilyn Vega said.
She was on home dialysis, but grew tired of having to empty her catheter several times a day every day. It also meant she had to be hooked up to a machine for nine hours each night while she slept. The procedure kept various toxins out of her bloodstream.
She was initially depressed when she learned dialysis would be part of her life, she said. Now, however, she accepts having to go to the dialysis facility on alternating weekday evenings.
She works as a medical assistant for a Boardman doctor, and doesn't allow dialysis to curtail her activities, she said.
He's ready: Eddie Vega said he's been to the doctor four times and had one more test today to ensure his kidney is still healthy enough to be donated. No donation date has been scheduled.
He feels ready to proceed, though, and noted his family, friends and co-workers support his decision. People should not be afraid to donate organs to loved ones and others, he added.
Instrument of hope: Marilyn Vega echoed that view, saying she would like to see more people consider organ donations. She also wants financial aid to be available to those who have to miss work.
Marilyn Vega said she anticipates missing 10 to 12 weeks of work; Eddie Vega, who works for Parker Hannifin Corp., may have to take up to three months off, she added.
She said people are accepting of her and she wants her life to serve as an instrument of hope for others going through the process.
"Some people feel their life is over," she said. "I've worked, gone to school and traveled [with] it."
She wants to set an example for those having difficulties adjusting to dialysis treatments. Marilyn Vega said she often watches new patients' demeanors and reactions and is not afraid to share her experiences with them.
"If I see they're down, I try to talk to them, especially young people," she explained. "I don't let [dialysis] control me, I control it."