Couple in need of kidney transplants
With nine months to Christmas 2020, husband and wife Deion and Sonia Rolle know what they want for gifts – and that is for both to have had kidney transplant surgeries, so that neither of them would no longer have to receive dialysis treatments.
Sonia, 45, has been receiving dialysis treatment since 2015 after her kidneys failed and she developed a condition called renal artery stenosis. Deion, 56, was diagnosed with polycystic kidneys in 2017 and has been receiving dialysis treatments since then.
The Rolles set the pre-Christmas goal to have their surgeries as a gift to themselves but have to raise $100,000 – $50,000 each in order to have their surgeries performed in Cuba, which they chose because they say it’s a less expensive alternative. The couple has no insurance.
To date, the Rolles have raised approximately $30,000 but are $70,000 shy of their goal for surgery.
“The doctor at the Cuban Consulate has let us know that all bills have to be paid upfront.
“We really wanted to have our surgeries before Christmas. It was a goal we set from last year that before 2020 we wanted to be off the machine, have our kidneys in, for a Christmas gift to ourselves. So, we’re hoping and praying and believing in God,” said Sonia.
She was on vacation visiting her brother when she became ill and had to be taken to hospital where she said they told her that her kidneys had failed and that she needed to do dialysis right away. Rolle said she was told that if she hadn’t received the treatment when she did, that she would have died in a matter of days.
“They said to me, because my kidneys were so far gone I would need to have a transplant,” she said.
“I developed kidney failure because I was a little bit larger than I am now; the vessel from the heart to the kidney got compressed and there was low blood circulating from the heart to the kidney.” This is a condition called renal artery stenosis.
Rolle began taking dialysis, hoping her kidneys would jumpstart themselves.
“I was on the dialysis machine for two years, waiting and hoping and praying and believing my kidneys might kick back in because I’d heard stories of people who had gone on the machine, and after a few years … a few months their kidneys kicked back in, and I was hoping for that.”
After she had been receiving dialysis treatments for nearly three years she said her husband decided to get tested to see if he was a match so that he could donate a kidney to her.
During her husband’s testing in the latter part of 2017 he learnt that he had polycystic kidney disease (PKD), an inherited disorder that is passed from parents to children through genes. In PKD, numerous cysts grow in the kidneys. The cysts are filled with fluid. If too many cysts grow, or they get too big, the kidneys can become damaged. PKD cysts can slowly replace much of the kidneys, reducing kidney function and leading to kidney failure.
He too would require a kidney transplant and had to join his wife in receiving dialysis treatments as well.
The Rolles receive treatment on the same day; Sonia takes treatment first, and she’s followed by her husband.
Sonia said her husband took the news of his failing kidneys better than she did, as she went into a state of depression as she wondered what would happen to them, as her husband, who worked in the construction sector, was the sole provider for the family – especially after he no longer had a job, after having a graft put into his arm which made him unable to lift any heavy instruments.
“With him being the sole provider of the home and taking care of everything, and now actually being sick, we were trying to figure out how we would manage to pay bills and how the rest of our lives would be going forward,” she recalled.
Prior to his diagnosis, Rolle said her husband had shown no symptoms, and he did not start feeling ill until he got tested to see if he was a match for her.
“At diagnosis he started having bad feelings. He was very dizzy, very nauseous, but this was after he had taken the first test and was waiting for the results to come back. By the time the results came back we kind of figured something was wrong because he started to feel very sick.”
PKD is reportedly the fourth leading cause of kidney failure, according to the National Kidney Foundation. It is found in all races and occurs equally in men and women. It causes about five percent of all kidney failure.
With both husband and wife diagnosed with kidney failure, they both needed donors.
While her husband found a donor match immediately in one of his sisters, his wife in turn had the arduous task of having to ask family and friends, with some taking the test and not being a match, and others telling her no, time and again. Earlier this year, she had a friend offer to get tested who is a match.
The Rolles both now have donors, but are in need of the $1000,000 to have their surgeries done which they have elected to have performed in Cuba, owing to the cost.
“So far we are at almost $30,000,” said Rolle. They raised the money through various fundraising initiatives. She said doctors haven’t given them a time frame in which the surgeries have to be done, but he said they recommend them having their surgeries as quickly as possible.
“Because our hands are tied with finances we aren’t able to do anything at this moment in time because the doctor at the Cuban Consulate has let us know that all bills have to be paid upfront,” she said.
As they continue to fundraise and pray for a benefactor(s) to step up to help them, the Rolles have also taken charge of their eating habits for the better. They have cut out red meat and grow vegetables and fruits for consumption in their backyard garden, to combat having to purchase the items at the grocery store, thus decreasing their expenditure of funds in that area. She said she also follows her doctor’s guidelines.
Considering what she and her husband are going through, Rolle’s advice to people is that they visit the doctor for a checkup at least once a year.
“If you’re a person who is hypertensive, you need to take your medication to get your pressure under control; if you’re diabetic you need to take your medication to get your diabetes under control, because if not, you will end up in kidney failure and being in dialysis, and the process of kidney failure is not fun.”
Rolle, who is also a pastor, said as they go through their struggle, keeping busy helps to keep her and her husband motivated.
“I do outreach where we go and give out clothing and food items from things donated to us. We’ve been doing this before I get sick, so after I got sick we still continued,” she said.
Anyone wanting to make donations to assist the Rolles in their fundraising efforts for the double kidney transplants can do so by making a deposit to their Scotia account under the name Sonia Rolle, account number 9209. She said they can also reach out to them at 325-6960, even if it’s just to talk if they know someone with a kidney illness.