Waiting for the "Gift"

By Toni Rodolfo-Benson 

My Mom and I, We’re a Team

My name is Toni Rodolfo-Benson and I was recently approved by CPMC to be a living kidney donor for my mom. I am thrilled that my mom and I match and will go through this part of the journey together.  

My mom is 74 years old, and she’s had chronic kidney disease for many years now. I remember the day my mom told me that she had kidney disease and may need dialysis. It felt like a death sentence. I cried. I was so afraid. I had so many questions. I started reading about my mom’s disease and how I can help her through her journey. I wanted to know how I could support her and help her navigate the healthcare system.  Our family suspects that her kidney disease was brought on by a combination of her hypertension, gout, and taking high doses of ibuprofen for a prolonged period. My mom has lived a healthy life. She ran marathons and enjoyed ballroom dancing in her younger years. She loves food, but she’s always maintained a healthy weight. 

I inherited my active, healthy lifestyle from her. I run, do yoga, meditate and eat a healthy diet. Also, diabetes runs on my dad’s side of the family. An aunt and uncle passed away when young from complications of end-stage renal disease.. Little did I know that my healthy lifestyle will hopefully give my mom another chance to live with a healthy new kidney. My mom never asked me to be a donor. I just knew even from the beginning that if given a chance, I will donate my kidney to her. I am a registered nurse, and I work in clinical research for a biotech company in Alameda. I used to work in long term care, emergency medicine, and oncology. I’ve cared for patients affected by kidney disease, and I’ve seen how the disease affects their quality of life. My mom is not yet on dialysis, and we hope to get the transplant done before she gets to that point. 

The BAAKP support group has been a source of courage for my mom and me. Since we joined the BAAKP support group, our worries and fears have changed to hope, empowerment, and resilience.   

EDUCATING AND SUPPORTING BAY AREA KIDNEY PATIENTS