Kidney Transplant Today
April 2021
For college basketball coach Billy Gillispie–who has led programs at Texas A&M, Kentucky, Texas Tech and currently Tarleton State–the game’s impact is emotional to think about.

Gillispie’s journey included highs and lows, but nothing that could fully prepare him for 2017, when he was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney failure. It meant he needed a miracle to keep his journey going. On a December Saturday, in Tahlequah, Ok, an article about Billy’s story flashed across the twitter feed of another college basketball coach’s wife–Ericka Downey.

"[I] didn’t know [Billy] at all," said Downey. Downey didn’t know much about donating a kidney, but she had a feeling. "It was a tug in my heart," said Downey. "’You need to help. This needs to be you.’"

Tweeting like crazy about Billy’s story, Downey caught the attention of one of Gillispie’s former assistant coaches, who connected them. After a battery of tests, she found out a month later she was a match to be his donor. Gillispie and Downey met at the 2018 Final Four for the first time and then traveled shortly after to The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for a successful kidney transplant.

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Low serum bicarbonate in kidney transplant recipients is associated with an increased risk for graft failure, according to data presented at the virtual National Kidney Foundation 2021 Spring Clinical Meetings.

A study of a real-world population of 1722 renal transplant recipients who had a functioning graft at 1 year showed that each 1 mEq/L increase in serum bicarbonate over time was associated with a 10% reduction in graft failure risk in adjusted analyses, Vandana Mathur, MD, a nephrologist and president of MathurConsulting in Woodside, California, and colleagues reported in a poster presentation.

In addition, each 1 mEq/L increase in serum bicarbonate was associated with a 4% decreased risk for a composite of major cardiovascular (CV) events (MACE+) that included the first occurrence of myocardial infarction, stroke, new-onset heart failure (HF), a HF inpatient admission in patients with comorbid HF, or CV death.

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One in three Americans are at risk of developing chronic kidney disease, or CKD, and approximately 90% of those with kidney disease don’t even know they have it. Roshanda, a passionate patient advocate, is managing her kidney failure through solo home hemodialysis while balancing caring for her family. She is on the kidney transplant list and was recently featured in a documentary about the crucial need for kidney donors, where her journey with kidney failure and transplantation was highlighted.

"I was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2012. I was pregnant with my second child and I had a long history of high blood pressure. I basically found myself in the ER and I was told that I was in renal failure after that pregnancy," she said. "I didn't really have many signs or symptoms. About 1 in 7 Americans are estimated to have Chronic Kidney Disease in the U.S. But really, are the signs or symptoms ever present? And that was true for me."

What Roshanda wants people to know is what some of those signs and symptoms may be. She mentions frequent urination, fatigue, shortness of breath, itching, and swelling in hands and feet. "I want you to go get screened, regardless of whether or not those symptoms are presented. It's really important."

Click the button below to read/watch more about Roshanda's story.
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