Michelle's love for dogs started early in life. At the age of eight, she got involved in the 4-H Club in her hometown of Louisville, Ohio, and began training and showing dogs in competitions. Her hobby continued during college, and Michelle would regularly work with her beautiful Labrador dogs in between studies.
Then one day, she started feeling ill. The flu was going around campus, so Michelle thought she had just caught the bug. But when she started feeling worse instead of getting better, she went to the doctor. Seeing how dehydrated Michelle was, the doctor checked her into the hospital and recommended a blood test. The results revealed it was actually her kidneys failing, not the flu.
"It's a condition that starts early, but doesn't show up until it's too late."
Michelle had medullary cystic kidney disease, a condition that starts in the early teens and usually doesn't show any symptoms until years later. It was definite—Michelle would need a new kidney. With no match in her family, she had no choice but to join a transplant waiting list. Michelle's doctor recommended going to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Not knowing much about Ohio State, she went for a visit and spent the whole day talking with the doctors and nurses about the transplant process. That first visit put Michelle more at ease and gave her confidence everything would end up okay. She started dialysis soon after.
A Transplant Was The Best Option
"I was ready to get the transplant, so I could go on with my life."
While Michelle waited for a kidney, she went three times a week for dialysis at her local hospital. During this time, she had no choice but to stay in school because she needed the health insurance. With her immune system in constant jeopardy, Michelle had to make some difficult decisions. Her involvement in 4-H was put on hold and she had to stop showing the dogs she loved.
Finally, after a year of dialysis, a call came in the middle of the night—Ohio State had a kidney match. An anxious Michelle went straight to Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center, where the medical staff wasted no time getting her into surgery. The kidney came from a deceased donor and was a perfect match.
Michelle's surgery was successful, and she was out of the hospital within a week. The kidney transplant was so seamless that she hasn't had any problems since.
She's Returned To The Dog Show Circuit
"I'm grateful that I can now live a full, active life."
Now, 13 years later, Michelle focuses mostly on her beloved dogs. As soon as she was well enough, Michelle picked right back up where she left off, and now she owns four beautiful Labrador retrievers. She manages to squeeze in her annual checkups at Ohio State between participating in dog shows across the country. Although Michelle stays busy, she spends a little part of every day thinking about how grateful she is to have a second chance at life.
Learn about the care team
Meet Michelle's Care Team
Behind every patient story we feature are the people who made it a success. Learn more below about Michelle's talented care team.
For most patients suffering end-stage kidney failure, kidney transplantation is the best treatment. A kidney transplant involves surgically replacing your damaged kidney with a kidney that has been donated by a deceased or a living donor. People whose kidneys have permanently failed due to chronic end-stage renal disease caused by diabetes mellitus, hypertension, autoimmune disease, congenital abnormalities or because of infection or trauma (injury) may be a candidate for a kidney transplant.
In the past, age was a major factor in receiving a kidney transplant; however, patients range from six-month-old infants to 70-year-old adults. Your overall health status is what's most important. If you meet the candidacy requirements and are deemed healthy enough, you will then proceed with the transplant orientation process. Patients who have undergone kidney transplant surgery after being on dialysis often tell us they now enjoy a noticeable improvement in the quality of their lives.
Screenings prior to transplant surgery ensure that you are in good medical and psychological health and that you have the motivation and support to adhere to treatment plans. People who generally are not candidates include those with metastatic cancer, active drug or alcohol abuse, active infection or severe medical problems.
If you think you might be a candidate for kidney transplant, please contact your family physician immediately for evaluation. Your physician can then determine if a referral to the transplant team at Ohio State's Comprehensive Transplant Center is necessary.
Learn More About Living Donation
To learn more about whether you could be a candidate for a kidney transplant, please call: 614-293-6724 or 800-293-8965
Ohio State Expertise
Recognized by U.S.News & World Report magazine as one of "America's Best Hospitals" caring for patients with kidney disorders, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center's Comprehensive Transplant Center is home to the largest, most experienced kidney transplant programs in Ohio—as well as one of the largest, most experienced in the nation. We performed our first kidney transplant in 1967, and since then we have been a nationally recognized leader in kidney transplantation. Ohio State's transplant surgeons perform more than 250 kidney transplants per year.
Our Comprehensive Transplant Center is under the leadership of nationally renowned transplant surgeon Robert Higgins, MD, who is a former president of the United Network for Organ Sharing and comes to Ohio State from Rush University in Chicago.
The OSU Comprehensive Transplant Center
Ohio State's Comprehensive Transplant Center (CTC) has long been a local and national leader in the field of transplantation. Since 1967, the Center has performed more than 7,500 types of transplants, including heart, lung, pancreas, kidney, liver, blood and bone marrow.