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Kidney transplant recipient talks surgery and life after

Mar. 12—ANDERSON — Cynthia Teague thought she was invincible until her blood pressure reached a life-threatening peak.

"In November 2017... the blood pressure gauge only goes up to 300 and it went off the charts," she recalled.

One of the doctors in the emergency room was amazed she was still conscious.

"Wow, I've never seen anybody with blood pressure that high that was still awake,'" Teague recalled the doctor saying.

Teague's hypertension had gone untreated for more than a year. Her reason was that the medicines were so expensive, more than $300 per month without insurance.

However, her unmanaged condition had irreparably damaged her kidneys, which were already failing.

As a result, Teague would spend four hours a day, three days a week in the dialysis clinic for the next 4.5 years.

Dialysis took a lot of time and energy. The procedure in which fluids and toxins are mechanically removed from the blood, Teague said, is notorious for being hard on patients' bodies.

Teague's kidney disease progressed to where she needed a transplant.

Patients with less than 20% kidney function are considered for a transplant, according to Dr. Abdul Moiz, the nephrologist who oversaw her case.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Islam Ghoneim.

However, declining function is not the only factor considered when determining whether to do a transplant.

"What makes somebody a good candidate is their overall health profile," Moiz said. "Cynthia had high blood pressure but she did not have any other chronic diseases. Based on her health profile, time on dialysis and her overall status, she came out to be an overall good candidate."

Candidates are put on a waitlist as finding a donor can take quite a while. Most candidates wait an average of three to five years, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

Teague waited about six months when she received the call. A match had been found.

The now 70-year-old received her new kidney on June 13, 2022. Since then, she's received a new lease on life, although that life is not without issues.

Teague's immune system regularly fights the new kidney as if it's a pathogen or harmful foreign body. She takes anti-rejection drugs that suppress her immune system as a result.

Despite some setbacks, she is thrilled to be rid of dialysis and regularly enjoys time with her many friends and a few dogs.

Follow Caleb Amick on Twitter @AmickCaleb. Contact him at caleb.amick@heraldbulletin.com or 765-648-4254.