The kidneys are organs in the body that filter the blood, removing wastes and extra water are essential for life. They also maintain a healthy balance of water, salts, and minerals to keep the body functioning normally. Chronic kidney disease is a condition in which the kidneys are damaged and cannot filter blood as well as they should. This causes a multitude of health problems. In this and the following two episodes, Veterans and their caregivers talk about their experiences with chronic kidney disease and how they or their loved ones came to get kidney transplants through the VA. In episode 7, we will also hear from a nephrologist at the VA healthcare system.
Our first guest is Alysha Scott, care giver for a Veteran, Jan Scott. They are from Kokomo, Indiana and came to Iowa City to be a part of the collaborative kidney transplant program between the University of Iowa and the Iowa City VA Healthcare System. Jan served four years in Louisiana during the Vietnam War and was a firefighter for the city of Kokomo for 20 years. Experiencing renal failure, Jan was on dialysis three times a week for four years. He was on the transplant list for two years before receiving his kidney. Alysha discusses what it is like to have a significant other with end stage kidney disease. She also shares their experiences as a post-operation kidney transplant patient continuing to receive care through the Iowa City VA Healthcare System.
Our second guest is Rob Siwek, a high school baseball coach from Mansfield, Ohio. Rob is a post-operation kidney and pancreas transplant patient who received his kidney, pancreas, and continuing care through the Iowa City VA Healthcare System. He served in the Army from 1987 to 1989 in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Doctors diagnosed him with diabetes during his service. His long battle with type 1 diabetes led to kidney disease and eventually the need for a kidney and pancreas transplant. He discusses his many first-hand experiences involving kidney disease, dialysis, his surgery, and how grateful he is for organ donation.