Midlands resident seeking kidney donor

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Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 9:15 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Stephanie Ponds Henry of Camden was diagnosed with stage four chronic kidney disease (CKD) in January 2020. The diagnosis translates to severe organ damage resulting in little to no function at all.

The disease went undetected during Stephanie’s four years of treatment for high blood pressure at the Sandhills Medical Foundation in Lugoff. It was not until being referred to a nephrologist in Columbia that she received diagnosis.

“At first, I thought [the doctor] may have had the wrong patient. It couldn’t have been me,” said Stephanie in-between shifts at the United Methodist Center.

Twenty months after the initial diagnosis, Stephanie engaged in emergency dialysis at Prisma Health Richland Hospital. Now, the 40-year-old receives at-home dialysis through a chest catheter five days a week, two and a half hours per session.

“The [chest] catheter can’t get wet. So, there’s limitations for showers and bathing. No water parks. No beaches. No swimming. None of the stuff that I love to do,” continued Stephanie.

Today, she is listed across three institutions for the kidney of a deceased donor. According to Stephanie, the wait time for this treatment is two to five years.

“So, they urge you to try and seek living donations… to avoid a person like me from being on dialysis for the next five years,” said Stephanie.

Her husband, Sharome Henry, was the first person to volunteer his kidney. Upon clinical testing, he was deemed unfit for donation.

“Come to find out I’m not as healthy as I thought I was. I have elevated levels of blood pressure, from time to time. So, medically, I need some work to be a better candidate,” said Sharome.

While the self-defined “kidney disease advocates” search for a living donation, they stop at nothing to raise awareness. Stephanie organized a kidney awareness walk to Camden City Hall last March and documents her journey on Facebook.

“I’m constantly sharing my story with others. And I’ve had a couple people reach out to me… for advice on the right questions to ask, and steps to avoid dialysis,” continued Stephanie.

She refers to kidney disease as a blessing in disguise and says it has made her a better person. Stephanie hopes to organize a blood testing event to detect and treat kidney disease in the early stages.

Stephanie Ponds Henry is blood type B+ and listed at MUSC of Charleston (843-792-5097), Atrium Health of Charlotte, North Carolina (704-355-3602) and Augusta University of Georgia (706-721-2888).

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