My name is John Turek and this blog is a way to share my thoughts and experiences as a dialysis patient while awaiting transplant.It is my sincere hope you will benefit from my experiences as we go through this journey together.
The beginning . . .
When I started this charity a couple of years ago, I had a vision of how things should work. One of the most important considerations was to keep our supporters in the loop. I think it is necessary to maintain an open forum so our generous providers see where their hard earned money goes.
One of the requirements we ask of our scholarship recipients is to provide updates on their progress. This obligation should also fall on me. It’s been 15 months since I provided an offering to this website. During that window of time, many events have come and gone. We have had two successful DSF events that generated revenue and most significantly, I was called in for a kidney transplant!
The “call” . . .
It happened one early morning in mid-December. It was a Friday when I got the “call”. They said the unfortunate donor was a 20 year old girl who had been in an accident. I went to my dialysis session like usual with very little expectations. After my treatment was over, I was at lunch when my transplant coordinator called back and told me it was a match and everything was a go. She told me to check in to the hospital about 11:00 p.m. and my surgery would be early the next morning.
This was a very emotional time for everyone involved. My mother flew from South Carolina to be with me, my sister, and hundreds of family and friends from all over were sending their well wishes. And then there were the other recipient families. One was awaiting a heart, one a liver, one a pancreas, another for the other available kidney . . . you get the picture.
On the other side of the coin you have a family who’s daughter just had a terrible accident and they are about to lose their little girl. And yet, they have chosen to keep her alive just to save us. I knew they were making a tremendous sacrifice for me – a total stranger. The least I could do in return was make sure their daughter lived on through me and that I carried her kidney in a positive way.
They postponed the surgery due to logistics I guess. So I spent the next day hanging around the hospital, watching television and wandering around the campus. I tried to imagine what the upcoming days would be like. I knew I was in for about a six week recovery period if all went well, but I was excited to see how I would feel.
Knowing I could get back to a more normal life routine, a less rigid diet, and more freedom. Knowing I would have the time and energy to go back to the gym or even ride my bike. I would be able to eat what I want. This was going to be a great Christmas.
Unfortunately, it did not work out quite that way. About mid-afternoon, one of my surgeons came into my room and told me here was a problem. He said the organs were damaged in the accident and nothing was viable.
This isn’t an isolated incident. Stories similar to this happen every day across the world. I will admit I felt sorry for myself for a minute, but I quickly realized how lucky I really was. At least I could go back to my treatments and continue on the waiting list. If I were waiting for a heart or a liver, my options would certainly be less positive. What about the family of the donor? Now they would not be able to see their daughter live on through us. My heart goes way out to those folks.
The “reason” . . .
Today is May 07, 2012. My first dialysis treatment was exactly three years ago. For a kidney patient, these are anniversaries you generally do not celebrate by sharing the event with friends and family. As a matter of fact, they become personal milestones that only we recognize. Not speaking from experience, but I suppose it is similar to someone who is doing time in jail, just counting the days until freedom.
In the three years since I started this journey, I have sat through approximately 430 dialysis sessions, resulting in 1,900+ hours. As I said before, that is a lot of down time not only for me, but all dialysis patients. This is why we have started this cause.
This process started for me on my 40th birthday, October 7, 2008. I will spare you the details, but let’s just say I knew I was beginning a long journey. When I started dialysis treatments, it didn’t take long to decide I really needed to figure out a productive use of my time. The average wait time from when you go on dialysis, do the initial work up, get listed on the transplant register, and finally get the call for a transplant, is about five years.
So it made perfect sense to me to provide financial assistance for my peers to take online classes while doing their treatments. Thus the Dialysis Scholarship Fund was born. The idea is for our benefactors to achieve a degree while doing their sessions.
The "announcement" . . . We here at the Dialysis Scholarship Fund are very happy to share some great news with you. After two years of promotion and fundraising, we have reached the point where we will be awarding our very first scholarships!!!
This year, on August 19th, 2012, we will be hosting a monumental event for our organization. On this day we will give away four financial aid packages. I am not ashamed to say that this makes me beam with pride.
Not only our Board of Members have literally zero experience not only in the non-profit arena, but we are also all volunteers. With that being said, as I look back, it is amazing that we have gotten to this point. For instance, when we started this website, none of us had an ounce of web building experience. However, with great tenacity and vision, we have provided a site that is functional. Every time we make progress, we find more issues we need to address.
In my opinion, the biggest obstacle has been to make the site user interactive. I feel it is very important to give the end user convenience. I feel bad that the good people out there, ranging from patients to kind hearted social workers, haven’t had the ability to inquire about scholarship opportunities other than an through e-mail. Over the weekend we finally figured out how to accept on-line applications.
Since the beginning, we have received over 30 inquiries from candidates all over the globe. If you happen to be one of these folks, please be assured I will personally contact you and invite you to formally apply through the application process.
Also, if you are, or know someone who would benefit from our help, I want to hear from you. The best way to reach me is:
Or, just fill out the pre-qualification form directly on the website at:
As excited as we are to make these awards, we are only able to provide four scholarships this year. But we will continue to work hard so that next year we can provide several more. The reason I say this is if you don’t make the cut this year, you are welcome to reapply as often as you like. That statement should go without saying, simply because there are not many people in this situation who give up on anything!
Now that our organization has turned the corner, the sky is the limit! I promise that now that we have figured this technology out, I will post my own personal updates at least once a month. And once we award scholarships, the recipients of those scholarships will be required to give updates as well.
Thanks again for your interest and support. Stay tuned and join us as we watch this project grow from a single seed to a healthy oak!