With a successful perfectly matched double kidney and pancreas transplant, Andree Campbell, according to her doctor, is no longer diabetic (which she has been since age 10) and she no longer has to take insulin, or undergo three-times-per-week dialysis treatments for hours on end. Her dad, Anglican priest Father Sebastian Campbell, said he felt relief after his daughter’s successful 10-hour double transplant surgery – and that a burden that had been heavy for years, praying for this moment in time, which they thought would never come, had come. And that his daughter came out of the surgery revived and in good spirits and was talking immediately afterward.
“That’s part of the miracle,” said Campbell.
“From hopeless to hope; out of despair to a moment of lightness,” said the Anglican priest, who returned home on Saturday after three weeks in Florida with his daughter post-surgery.
“She was a perfect kidney match; perfect pancreas match,” he said.
He was also amazed at the fact that his daughter was able to receive her double kidney and pancreas transplant after being on the waiting list for only three months.
It was a surgery that costs at least a half-a-million dollars. The surgery was done even though the Campbells did not have all the funds.
“Thank God it all happened … don’t know how it happened, but it happened and they did the surgery,” said the Anglican priest. “God has put good, caring people in the way who give and do not count the cost.” He described them as angels without wings.
“I want to thank God for coming through – and beyond all doubt He proved all things are possible, because we thought it was a hopeless situation. There must be a God and He has proven himself and demonstrated himself through wonderful people and placed angels in the way to make it happen.”
Campbell recalled flying to Florida to take his daughter to seek medical care with less than $100 cash and a maxed-out credit card.
“Andree was in and out of PMH [Princess Margaret Hospital]; she could find no relief. Nothing could be more painful than seeing your child suffer with no relief in sight,” he said. “I could no longer bear taking my child for dialysis at 3 a.m. for a 6 a.m. start that hardly went on time.”
He also recalled “taking on” the sickness of his daughter.
“I was making trips to the doctor who could not find nothing wrong with me,” he recalled. “We had to get out. What was there to lose? I was compelled to do what a father should do – search for the best for his child.”
Campbell praised the staff at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where Andree had a surgery, for their attitude, humility and the treatment they gave his family.
“They were so nice, so kind, so receptive, and made you really feel that you were worth something,” he said.
While Andree still has surgical bills to be paid, for the foreseeable future, Andree will also have an average $12,000 a month medication bill and still have to find funds to continue to pay for living expenses in Florida where she has been living since January 31, 2019.
Campbell was also grateful that Andree was able to receive her double transplant after only three months on the waiting list. She was placed on the list in November after a 10-month qualifying process.
“That in itself was a miracle, because some people spend years waiting,” he said.
Campbell and his wife stayed in Florida with Andree three weeks post-surgery. She has to remain in the United States, because the first three months after transplant are critical. She has to visit the doctor weekly, and is on an elaborate protocol of medicines to avoid rejection.
Campbell said Andree’s new terminology is ‘God is good’ and she is a witness, because everything went smoothly for her in terms of immigration when she had to move to Florida over a year ago, finding housing and transportation.
“We are eternally thankful to those giving financial assistance,” said Campbell. “You are in our debt of gratitude.”
He also confessed that he found his faith in limbo at times as he watched his daughter fight, although he said God was taking the lead the entire time.
The new year got off to the best start for the Campbells when Andree received the call to make her way to the South Florida hospital to be tested to see if she was a match to receive organs the medical facility had received.
Andree had been living in Fort Lauderdale for a year to be close to the hospital for such a telephone call. She was taken to the hospital by her brother Sebastian Campbell, Jr. to be tested to see if the organs matched 100 percent.
Andree’s brother is serving as her substantive healthcare provider, having abandoned his job and personal ambitions to live with and provide his sibling with 24 hours, seven-days-a-week care.
Campbell, who spoke with The Nassau Guardian a mere two minutes after receiving the call that his daughter was to make her way to the hospital, asked for continued prayers that she would be a match and be able to accept the organs.
Andree was rushed to hospital even though the family was short on funds needed for the surgery.
At the time, Campbell said he was going on a wing and a prayer.
As Andree fought for her life over the years, her dad said she maintained hope through it all and that she was the one who encouraged them. He said throughout her trials she never lost hope.
Over the years, Andree had lost more than 80 percent of her eyesight. Campbell was hopeful and prayerful that with a successful transplant, she would get some of her lost eyesight back.
Andree 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 did 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.
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.
Andree found herself having to take dialysis treatments three times per week while she sought to have a kidney transplant.
In May 2018, a GoFundMe account was organized by Juanita Houston, Andree’s sorority sister, to assist in raising the $300,000 Andree needed for surgery. Yesterday, Andree’s GoFundMe page revealed that $9,029 had been raised; and that on May 16, 2019, her friend made another public appeal for financial assistance, writing that a little from many helps.
In her crowdfunding plea, Houston wrote that while regular dialysis treatments helped Andree’s kidneys do their job and keep her alive, a transplant would offer her more freedom and the ability to live a longer, healthier, more normal life. And that a transplant would give Andree more time to do the fun things she enjoys most, like spending time with her family and friends.
In July 2018, Andree told The Nassau Guardian that before dialysis, she was able to lead a pretty normal life, but dialysis took so much away.
When she started dialysis, she said she normally had to leave home at two in the morning for treatments three times per week that didn’t start until 5 a.m. – that’s if they even started on time.
After taking treatment, she would then head to her job, and that was if she felt well after having treatment.
“It’s rough – especially on dialysis days. The other days it’s fine, but dialysis days are rough,” she told The Nassau Guardian.
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.
Andree has type 1 diabetes and high blood pressure and with that combination she developed chronic kidney disease.
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.