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My 2022 Denver Kidney Walk Fundraising Page

Carissa House

Carissa House

Why I Walk

In 2016, after a couple years of strange symptoms and many doctors appointments, my dad was diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). FSGS is a rare and incurable disease that affects the filters in your kidneys. When these filters are scarred, they are unable to filter your blood, which can lead to kidney damage and failure. It was quickly apparent that my dad would need a new kidney. He quickly started dialysis, and the search for a live donor. The doctors told us that my dad would have to remove both kidneys before the donation, which is unlike in most kidney donations where a recipient would have 3 kidneys. This was because there was a very high chance that the old kidneys could infect the new, donated kidney.

My mom was a match, but due to the size of her kidney, she was ineligible to make the donation. Although other generous family and friends offered to get tested, it seemed there were no other matches. This is when I decided that I would donate my kidney in hopes of saving my dad's life. We had our surgery in October 2017 and it was a success! Unfortunately, about 2 weeks after our surgeries, it was apparent that my kidney had also been infected with FSGS, and that my dad would need to continue to do dialysis for the rest of his life.

With every other day dialysis being the new norm, my mom bravely decided to get certified to administer at home hemodialysis to my dad. For 4-5 hours every other day for about 3 years, my mom administered dialysis to my dad. She pushed herself far past her comfort zone to allow my dad to live a somewhat normal life without having to go to a dialysis clinic every week. 

It was far from smooth sailing from there. My dad went through various hospital admissions, new medical complications, tons of pain, and lots of uncertainty for the next 3 years. Thankfully him and my mom moved to Denver, CO to be closer to me, and my husband, Mike, and I were able to spend a ton of quality time with him (especially when they were our neighbors in our apartment for a couple of months while their house was built which we also later moved into). 

COVID hit while Mike and I were living with my parents, so that quality time increased tenfold overnight. If there were one positive to COVID, it would be that. Over the last year of my dad's life, we shared some incredible times together that I will never forget. Sadly, his kidney disease is not what ended his life. In April of 2021, an accidental fall, a broken hip, and surgery for his hip led to some complications which eventually led us to admit him to hospice. My mom, husband, aunt, and I spent every day of the last week of his life by his side. I was able to hold my dad's hand as he took his final breath on April 28, 2021. 

There is no doubt that my dad would've continued to lead an incredible life if it weren't for this rare kidney disease. My dad was the kindest, most compassionate, smartest, most giving person I have ever known, and I miss him more and more every day.

I walk so that hopefully one day someone else's daughter doesn't have to watch their father fall ill to this fatal disease. I walk to support the work of the National Kidney Foundation to ensure that families will have a place to turn when they need answers, to keep up the fight for policy changes to protect kidney patients and living donors, and to drive innovation in transplantation and get more loved ones off the kidney transplant waitlist.

Please consider supporting my efforts with a donation to the National Kidney Foundation. 


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