CANYON, Texas (KFDA) - Canyon resident, Ana Mejia never thought she would be one of the 95 thousand people who need a kidney.
But, at the age of 14 she was diagnosed with lupus; a disease that causes the immune system to attack your organs.
Soon Mejia found herself spending more time in health clinics than at her own home and was then put on chemotherapy. After the chemo was no longer working, she began dialysis, a treatment that mimics the work of failed kidneys, to stay alive.
When she found out she needed a kidney, Ana tells me she was sad and angry but also felt hope that this was the end of a very difficult journey.
“One time she had an infection because of her immune system that almost took her life and I remember being at the hospital, kneeling down, and holding her hand praying to God for her life,” said Ana’s dad, Alfonso Mejia.
After about three years of waiting for a kidney, Ana’s dad donated his. After the surgery she was able to attend Amarillo College and, out of all things, decided to become a nurse.
She was soon working 13 hours shifts as a nurse but also kept going to get lab tests done. After about seven years with her dad’s kidney, she was told the kidney was scarred.
“The transplant doctor comes in and he’s like you are going to need another transplant. That was the first I heard of it and I was like what?,” said Ana Mejia “So, I am going to spend the rest of my life on some sort of treatment because I don’t have kidneys that work so it’s either dialysis, transplant, or nothing. If I do nothing of course that means I am not compatible with life.”
She began dialysis again at Fresenius Kidney Care, this time from her home to help her keep a somewhat normal life. At dialysis, she met one of the many nurses that she now considers family; Leslie Fountain.
Fountain is a Home Therapy nurse at Fresenius Kidney Care and says that when patients are told they may need to start on dialysis, that they feel it is a death sentence but says it is her job to let people know that is not the case. She adds that through it all, Ana became her hero.
After a while doing the at home dialysis treatment, Ana found a match- this time in her uncle.
However, then COVID-19 hit and the transplant surgery was rescheduled.
When the time of the transplant came, they realized her body would no longer accept his kidney.
“So, we were just devastated. When we came home, I said, I’m sorry, I know you want me to be the caregiver, but I’m it,” said Ana’s mom, Regina Mejia.
Ana agreed to let her mom be the donor and although the process was different because of COVID-19, the transplant was a success.
Given another chance, Ana is now studying to become a nurse practitioner to help other patients like herself.
Ana says she wants people to know what it is like to go through kidney failure, because it not only affects the person and their physical and mental health but also everyone around them.
“We all struggle, but we can get through this if we have God, have our family and our friends,” says Ana Mejia.