A Second Chance: Navigating the Transplant Journey

by Tamara Walker

When I was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease at 25, the specter of kidney failure seemed distant. But at 38, it became my reality, and dialysis became my lifeline. Three times a week, I’d sit through treatments, grappling with fear and uncertainty about what lay ahead.

The prospect of transplantation loomed large, but the path was unclear. Questions piled up, and anxiety mounted. Then, after six months on dialysis, I decided to pursue transplantation and sought guidance from the Georgia Transplant Foundation (GTF). Enrolling in their Transplant Fundraising Program (TFP), I embarked on a journey to secure funding for my transplant-related expenses.

Through creative efforts like gospel concerts and community outreach, I surpassed my fundraising goals. My advice to others in similar situations is to leverage social media and share your story far and wide.

Yet, the wait for a donor organ was agonizing. I longed for someone who had walked this path before, who could offer guidance and support. That’s where The Mentor Project, offered by GTF, came in.

Pairing me with a mentor who had traversed the transplant journey, The Mentor Project provided invaluable support and insight. My mentor helped me navigate the uncertainty, ease fears, and provide a roadmap for moving forward.

When the call finally came in 2014, delivering the gift of a new kidney, I vowed not to squander this second chance. Inspired to give back, six months after my transplant, I became a volunteer mentor myself, eager to support others embarking on their own transplant journeys.

One such mentee was Shanté Boyd. Together, we navigated the transplant process, offering each other strength and encouragement along the way.

Shanté, like me, utilized the Transplant Fundraising Program to help with her medication and insurance premium expenses post-transplant. Her advice to fellow fundraisers: take action, no matter how small, and leverage resources like workshops and appeal letters.

Now, having received her transplant and found renewed purpose, Shanté pays it forward as a mentor, embodying the spirit of support and community that defines GTF’s programs.

Georgia Transplant Foundation: Empowering Transplant Recipients

The Georgia Transplant Foundation’s Transplant Fundraising Program empowers individuals like Tamara and Shanté to overcome the financial hurdles of transplantation. Through innovative fundraising strategies and personalized support, GTF ensures that no one faces the journey alone and provides the tools to help make sure you, too, are prepared for transplant-related expenses.

Discover how the Transplant Fundraising Program can transform lives: https://gatransplant.org/our-programs/transplant-fundraising-program/

If you are on your transplant journey and would like to request a mentor or learn more about The Mentor Project, please fill out the short form at https://gatransplant.org/the-mentor-project/