Transplant Patient: Waiting For The Call

Diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Kristeen Lynn Reeves is spending her days focusing on her three daughters and two grandsons – not venturing far from home, she waits for the call telling her she has a kidney donor.

A picture of a toe-headed toddler includes the words: “I never thought I’d need a kidney donor.” Next to that weathered snapshot is a more recent picture of a woman – now in her 40s. It reads: “Yes, here I am needing a kidney donor.”

As a child, Kristeen Lynn Reeves never imagined she would be diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). It’s a chronic, genetic disease that causes cysts to grow on the kidney – eventually leading to kidney failure. Reeves was diagnosed in December of 2012.

“To my knowledge, no one in the family had PKD,” said Reeves. Her father died at the age of 36, diagnosed with melanoma and her mother died of a stroke at the age of 50. “Looking back I wonder if my mother had PKD because she had similar symptoms,” said Reeves, who was diagnosed after experiencing severe back pain.

Under the care of IU Health nephrologist Dr. Timothy E. Tabor and surgeon, Dr. William C. Goggins, Reeves began the process last August of preparing for a kidney transplant. “I’m trying to avoid dialysis. That’s one of my fears,” said Reeves, who was recently hospitalized to level out her potassium and calcium levels. 

Born in Connecticut and raised in Long Island, NY. Reeves moved to Indiana in 1989. She said until she became ill she was very social. At one point in her life she assisted with special needs students and eventually made a career in real estate brokerage.

These days, her illness has slowed her down. She doesn’t shop with friends like she’d like to and a Disney vacation has been put on hold. She and her husband, Mark are parents to three daughters – the youngest graduates from high school this year. She also has two grandsons that she enjoys spending time with.

“I have days I get depressed because I can’t do the things I want to do,” said Reeves. “I know I need to be patient while I wait for a kidney donor but it’s hard.” Her daughter set up a page for her on Facebook and her husband is working toward accomplishing health goals in hopes of being a donor, but otherwise, Reeves said she is hoping for a miracle.

“At times you forget the way things used to be. I always hosted big family dinners and was the one that others depended on – now I depend on them,” said Reeves. “I’m just waiting for a phone call, hoping for a donor so I can enjoy watching my grandkids grow up.”

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
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