All I want for Christmas is a kidney but not for me. I want it for my wonderful daughter-in-law Bernie, short for Bernadette.
Bernie Valko had a kidney transplant when she was 15 years old after a birth complication damaged her kidneys and almost cost her life. For almost 17 years, Bernie did well with her new kidney, went to college and became an occupational therapist.
In September 2012, Bernie was set to marry my son Steve when her transplanted kidney failed the night before their wedding. Bernie told my son that, under the circumstances, they could cancel the wedding. Instead my son said his only regret was not marrying her sooner! No one knew before the wedding except family members. Nevertheless, Steve and Bernie’s wedding was a joyous occasion, although their honeymoon had to be postponed indefinitely.
Three days later, Bernie became very ill and was hospitalized. Dialysis was finally started but difficulties arose. Despite this, Bernie kept working as much as possible. Currently, she has dialysis 3 days a week and works three days a week. As a former dialysis nurse myself, I know that most dialysis patients are unable to work. However, Bernie is a trooper and even volunteers at their St. Louis, Mo. parish.
Bernie desperately needs a transplant. She needs a donor with an O+ blood type for a living donor transplant because such kidneys last almost twice as long and avoid the ethical concerns with other transplants.
Becoming a living kidney donor is not a decision to be made lightly. Information on becoming a living kidney donor is online at http://www.barnesjewish.org/become-a-kidney-transplant-living-donor . Bernie is now at the top of the Barnes Jewish Hospital waiting list.
In the meantime, Bernie and Steve also started a Facebook page “Find a Kidney for Bernie” with pictures and contact information if you or someone you know with an O+ blood type would like to be tested for a living kidney donation to Bernie.