Recorded Sept. 24, 2018; broadcast on Jan. 24, 2019.
JT Thomas is a senior at the University of Missouri and is studying biology and business. We met at an event called “The Art of the Scar” that was hosted by the Missouri Kidney Program in September.
JT was diagnosed with kidney failure at the age of 20, and he spoke about how his transplant gave him back his freedom.
He is now four years post-transplant.
Related Issues: Organ Transplant
Health Reporter, Missouri Health Talks and KBIA
JT Thomas: So, the surgery went well, and I still remember thinking, you know, as soon as I came to from the anesthesia I felt better than I have ever felt in my life because you used to being uncomfortable. I was in pain for so long, that you used to it and that's your new normal. Well, now I'm like everybody else, and the first thing that I said is, "people feel like this, and they still complain?"
That was the very first thing that I said, and ever since that day there has been a more gracious approach to life, I don't know, it didn't really change my personality, but it changed my thought process.
Now, I'm a little more patient when it comes to road rage, you know, because you realize, "Okay. Well, this person might have had something happen to them to affect their day."
I'm very much more appreciative of the days and the time that I have.
JT: The thing about dialysis is that it kept me from family. It kept me from seeing people, seeing the people who care about me the most, who prayed for me every day, and, you know, you can always schedule dialysis wherever you go. You can plan it. But why would you travel hundreds of miles to spend time with family, and, "Ope. I'm sorry I got to go do this."
Because I didn't want people to see me in that situation, so I avoided it and because of that, I didn't see my grandma for the last time.
So, whenever I got my transplant, I went down - the first trip that I went to - my dad and I went down to his parents place in Texas. they were in assisted living. They were married 65 years, and my grandpa was suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's.
So, we're thinking, "Okay. Well, he's on borrowed time himself. Let's go visit them. Let's go spend time with them."
So, we're playing cards with my grandpa and there were no rules. There was no real game, but we were there together spending time, and he couldn't really form a lot of conversations - form a lot of sentences, if you will, but he would, you know, be able to nod or shake his head or, you know, give a thumbs up, and if he didn't like someone he would do a finger gun and then go "pow pow."
And looking back, it's like well, I'm seeing you for the last time - this is probably the last time I'm going to see you - and it was something I will never forget, but I was able to do that because of my transplant. I was able to go and travel unrestricted to visit family.
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