After kidney transplant: One family’s journey

Most of us probably don’t think about kidney health on a frequent basis, but it’s something we shouldn’t take for granted. As the body’s chemical factories, the kidneys filter waste and perform functions vital to our health, such as controlling red blood cell production and blood pressure. The kidneys can become damaged over time, often with little or no physical symptoms, and kidney disease may develop.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, an estimated 26 million Americans live with kidney disease, yet most don’t even know that they have it. For those that do, countless hours are spent every year on dialysis. For many, when the kidneys ultimately fail a transplant is the best—if not only option—to lead a healthy life.

Facing a complex medical condition is stressful. When a child undergoes a transplant, it can be even more challenging and overwhelming for the family.

For the family in this video, a mother’s concern about her son’s health and well-being after the transplant, and the quality of life he will have, are her primary focus. But other stresses — social isolation, financial burdens and the responsibility of fulfilling other roles within the family unit — create additional strain.

Knowing where to turn when a situation arises can make the weeks and months following transplant surgery easier to manage. Families need support beyond their child’s transplant journey. Case managers play a critical role in helping children and families.

In this story, Ethan and his family live in Arizona. His mother Christi, a nurse, donated a kidney to her 4-year-old son after he lost renal function due to an onset of kidney cancer at age 2. As Ethan’s body adapts to the new kidney, the family has relied on their transplant case manager to help them navigate their benefits, and to facilitate consults or prescription changes.

Case workers help patients and family navigate the complex process before, during and after the transplant. For example, when Christie discovered that Ethan’s anti-rejection prescription was incorrectly prepared, she reached out to their case manager. Ethan needed the medicine that day, but Christie preferred that it come from his primary hospital. The case manager worked quickly to solve the problem, and Ethan received his medicine that afternoon.

Ethan’s mom shares their moving and engaging story in this video. It illustrates how the responsiveness and effectiveness of the transplant nurse case managers at Optum® help families focus on what’s most important — their child’s recovery.

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