Andree Campbell has had to battle with her health for most of her life having been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and high blood pressure just before her 10th birthday. Nine years ago, her medical problems were compounded when she developed chronic kidney disease. Not only did Andree have to continue to stay on top of the fact that her body does not produce insulin, a hormone the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body, but she also had to contend with the gradual loss of her kidneys, which filters wastes and excess fluids from the blood, which are then excreted into the urine, as they began to fail.
When chronic kidney disease reaches an advanced stage, dangerous levels of fluid, electrolytes and wastes can build up in the body, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Treatment for chronic kidney disease focuses on slowing the progression of the kidney damage usually by controlling the underlying cause. Chronic kidney disease can progress to end-stage kidney failure, which is fatal without artificial filtering (dialysis) or a kidney transplant.
This is where Andree, 36, now finds herself – having to take dialysis treatments three times per week while she seeks to have a kidney transplant.
She needs an estimated $300,000 to make the transplant happen.
To that end, a crowdfunding effort has been set up to help Andree reach the monies that can afford her the surgery that can save her life, by her sorority sister, Juanita Houston. Juanita, with Andree’s permission, says in her plea that regular dialysis treatments will help Andree’s kidneys do their job and keep her alive, but a transplant would offer her more freedom and the ability to live a longer, healthier, more normal life. She wrote on GoFundMe that a transplant would also give Andree more time to do the fun things she enjoys most, like spending time with her family and friends. Andree is the daughter of Anglican Priest Father Sebastian Campbell and his wife Agatha Campbell.
A GoFundMe page in Andree’s name created on May 29 has raised $6,497 of the $300,000 effort. She desperately needs financial help to make the kidney transplant a reality.
“Before dialysis I was able to lead a pretty normal life, but now dialysis takes so much away,” said Andree. “I normally leave home at two in the morning to do dialysis treatments [three times per week] that don’t start until 5 a.m.”
She normally finishes her treatments at approximately 10 a.m., then heads to her job at the Department of Public Health, South Beach Health Centre. On the day she spoke with The Nassau Guardian, she was at home, because she was not feeling well after her treatment.
“It’s rough – especially on dialysis days. The other days it’s fine, but dialysis days are rough,” she said.
Signs and symptoms
Signs and symptoms of kidney disease may include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue and weakness, sleep problems, changes in how much a person urinates, decreased mental sharpness, muscle twitches and cramps, swelling of feet and ankles, persistent itching, chest pain if fluid builds up around the lining of the heart, shortness of breath if fluid builds up in the lungs, and high blood pressure that’s difficult to control.
According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of kidney disease are often nonspecific, meaning they can also be caused by other illnesses. Furthermore, because kidneys are highly adaptable and able to compensate for lost functions, signs and symptoms may not appear until irreversible damage has occurred.
Type 1 diabetes and high blood pressure are two risk factors that cause chronic kidney disease, along with heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease, smoking, obesity, being African-American, Native American or Asian-American, family history of kidney disease, abnormal kidney structure, or older age.
“I have type 1 diabetes and high blood pressure and with that combination I developed chronic kidney disease,” said Andree.
Chronic kidney disease can affect almost every part of the body. Potential complications may include: fluid retention, which could lead to swelling in your arms and legs, high blood pressure, or fluid in your lungs (pulmonary edema); a sudden rise in potassium levels in the blood which could impair the heart’s ability to function; heart and blood vessel disease; weak bones and an increased risk of bone fractures; anemia; decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction or reduced fertility; damage to the central nervous system which can cause difficulty concentrating, personality changes or seizures; decreased immune response which makes you more vulnerable to infection; pericarditis, an inflammation of the saclike membrane that envelops the heart; pregnancy complications that carry risks for the mother and the developing fetus; irreversible damage to the kidneys, eventually requiring either dialysis or a kidney transplant for survival.
Andree is hoping to have her transplant surgery performed at Miami Transplant Institute once she has the funds.
“I have to have all the funds together before they would even see me,” she said. Andree has identified persons for testing to see if they are a match as far as kidney donation.
She was urged to consider transplantation because of her age, but was given no time frame in which to do it.
“The doctor suggested I look to receive a kidney transplant because I’m young, and should still have a lot of energy so I would be a good candidate for a kidney transplant. I’m trying to raise the money so I can do it as soon as possible.”
Speaking with The Nassau Guardian after her treatment, she said she has always hated the word “dialysis” due to the many bad things she heard about it and what it can do to a person’s body after her chronic kidney disease diagnosis.
“Now that I’m on it, I’m experiencing some of those things – diarrhea, weak feelings … vomiting.”
She also said that the treatments not only inconvenience her, but her parents as well. She has to depend on them to drop her off and pick her up from her treatments.
Her mother said it’s been a challenge, but she’s just happy to know that they are available most times to do it, despite their busy schedule.
“We try to do whatever we can. But I prefer us to be available to do whatever it is that we can for her rather than for her having to be dependent on someone to do it, because in addition to that she also has challenges with her eyes, as a result of the diabetes. She doesn’t like to talk about it, but she cannot see in her left eye, and has limited sight in her right eye,” said Campbell.
“But the good thing about it, if there is a good thing about it – not because we try to live that Christian life means that we cannot have battles, so we have battles just like anybody else, but I guess your faith keeps you strong to know that yes, because of my faith I can go a little further because I can believe God; that God is going to see me through this, and God will see her through,” she said.
Campbell admitted that it has been a battle.
“She started just before her 10th birthday, so September will be 27 years, but this part of it has been the worst part,” said Andree’s mother.
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