Learning The Ropes
Jen Benson is a Kidney and Pancreas transplant recipient who is now devoting her full-time efforts to providing support to patients and their families on their journeys to an organ transplant. She brings her personal experiences to her patients which helps them navigate the daily volatility of emotion and the almost constant need for more information. She prides herself on her ability to help people find the right route for their circumstances. Here is her story about her “Transplant Journey”:
After returning from my Honeymoon in October 2009, I was told I would have to start Hemo Dialysis. Two weeks later I did. That moment started a journey for which I had not signed up for. I had been a diabetic since I was 11 years old. A kidney stone had landed me in the hospital. That stone caused septic shock which provided a near death experience; eventually causing my kidneys to fail.
In November 2009 I started on dialysis three times a week for four hours each time. I was the youngest person in the clinic. After extensive information gathering and researching by my family, we selected several transplant centers which performed numerous SPK (simultaneous pancreas/kidney) transplants in different regions around the US. My goal was to rid my body of both kidney failure and diabetes in one surgery. I was on the transplant list waiting for a deceased donor for almost seven years. I required a deceased donor because I dreamed of a pancreas to treat my diabetes.
On August 17, 2015 I received a kidney and pancreas transplant from a deceased donor at Columbia University- NYPH in New York NY. I was in the hospital for 11 days. I left the hospital at 86lbs, free of kidney failure and Type 1 diabetes. Now the only medications that I take are for my transplant; these are anti-rejection medications. At a healthy 110lbs., I no longer require dialysis or daily insulin injections. My life has dramatically improved. I have a new lease on life due to my donor. I appreciate that my life has changed so much because an amazingly courageous family donated their 19-year-old son’s organs when he passed unexpectedly. There were several other transplant patients who benefited from their generous gift who are alive today to share their own stories. This is the reason organ donation is so vital to me and my family. The act of donating provides others in need with the opportunity to lead an abundant and rewarding life.
I work with several groups focused on transplantation based on my own personal experience.
The Transplant Forum – Columbia University, CUMC, Executive and Benefit Committees Member
Hearts For Russ — Board Member