Dicy McCullough column: Charlene Fero
Occasionally while listening to the nightly news or reading the daily newspaper, we hear about someone who has a condition or disease that places their life in jeopardy. Often the person is not someone we know or even someone in our community. However, this time the story is different because Charlene Fero lives in Salisbury.
Charlene is the kind of person who along with her husband, Jim, enjoys life to the fullest, which for them might mean playing a round of golf, vacationing at the beach, traveling to a foreign country or having a good laugh with friends and family. Since Charlene and Jim both enjoy volunteering their time, it also could mean working at their church, helping a neighbor with a project or lending a hand to someone down on their luck.
With Jim having over 20 years in the Air Force, he and Charlene have traveled around the world, including places like Germany, Holland, Belgium, England and Hawaii, even at one time calling Hawaii home. Hoping during retirement years to rekindle old friendships in some of these places, their dreams are on hold for now because of Charlene’s health.
To look at her one would never guess she has suffered the effects of a debilitating disease since the age of 18. Born with a genetic condition known as Polycystic Kidney Disease, otherwise known as PKD, this condition eventually leads to kidney failure because of cysts that grow on the kidneys. Symptoms include headaches, back aches, hip pain, blood in the urine and high blood pressure.
Taking blood pressure medicine and Tylenol for pain since the age of 18, Charlene has been on antibiotics for the last three years because of infections. Now in the final stage before kidney failure, her window of opportunity for a transplant is very narrow. Hoping this story will open the door for anyone interested in being a donor, if she doesn’t get a new kidney soon, she will have to start dialysis.
Charlene already has two volunteers, but needs more in case they are not a match. Once new volunteers are entered into the database, even if they are not a match for Charlene, they could possibly be a match for someone else. While it’s true kidneys can be transplanted from someone who is deceased, chances of a successful transplant are better with a live donor.
Most donors return to their normal schedule within a few weeks after surgery, adjusting quite well to life with just one kidney.
Following are some of the requirements to be a donor:
• Must be 18 years old and in good physical condition.
• Compatible blood type. (Charlene’s blood type is B, so the donor must be B or O type.)
• Have normal kidney and liver functions.
• Willing as well as prepared to handle the physical and emotional challenges of major surgery.
• Aware of the risks involved.
If interested in volunteering to be a donor, then contact Carolinas Medical Center, Transplant Center at 704-355-3602 to request a donor package, which explains the procedure and process thoroughly. After completing the form, send it back along with the medical test in the package. For those who keep up to date with yearly exams most of the requirements should already be fulfilled. Everything is confidential, including the name of the donor who has no financial responsibilities since the procedure is covered under the recipient’s insurance.
When asked what this surgery would mean to her, Charlene said, “It would mean I’d have less pain and more energy. It would also mean I could enjoy my friends and family as well as spend quality time with my grand kids (who I adore). I could travel with my husband, be active in church, and, basically, get my life back again.”
Pausing to think for a minute, Charlene then said, “No matter what happens, my life is in God’s hands. If he sends a compatible donor, then it was meant to be. He is the ultimate miracle worker and I trust him completely.”
The Bible says if we have the faith of a mustard seed, then we can move mountains. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind, Charlene, that you have more faith than a mustard seed, so not only are we cheering for you, but we’ll be waiting on the other side of that mountain.