An Edinburgh woman will have lifesaving surgery today, receiving a kidney from the daughter she gave life to 56 years ago.
Anna Rhoades was diagnosed with Stage 5 renal disease in 2003. Her kidney function has deteriorated over the past
11 years, and a transplant is crucial to the 74-year-old’s survival.
Diana Boggs, Rhoades’ daughter, was identified as a perfect donor match.
A kidney, Boggs said, is a small price to pay to help her mother.
“She gave me life,” Boggs said. “I can give up a kidney.”
Although only a few of them live close to Edinburgh, Boggs and her seven siblings — along with Rhoades’ husband, Ron; her siblings and her 20 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren — are eager to see the woman back in good health.
They have all stepped up in their own way to help, whether that means being next in line to donate if Rhoades’ body rejects the donor kidney or leading efforts to raise money to help cover medical costs.
Medical bills will start piling up soon. While the transplant cost — typically about $250,000 — will be covered by Rhoades’ medical insurance, the full expense of follow-up care and necessary medications will not.
Following the surgery, Rhoades will have to pay $2,600 a month for a strong antibiotic that she will take for three to six months and $1,800 a month for pills to keep her body from rejecting the transplanted kidney that she will have to take for the rest of her life.
Because of that financial burden, Rhoades’ family turned to the National Foundation for Transplants, a nonprofit organization that helps transplant patients raise funds to pay for medical expenses. Her children have set a fundraising goal of $25,000 to help cover expenses, and daughter Carla Meyer said they would like to raise $50,000 if possible.
So far, they have raised almost $5,000 through a yard sale and by asking for donations, said Connie Barnett, Rhoades’ oldest daughter.
They have planned six more events so far to help raise more money, including a 5K walkathon at Mill Race Park on Sunday and a bake sale next month at Edinburgh Premium Outlets.
Rhoades said the family is grateful for the support it has received from extended family, friends and even others they do not know, who have donated money and kept the family in their prayers.
“You wouldn’t think that people would have cared like that, especially strangers,” she said. “But they have really been fabulous.”
The family is extremely close. They have always celebrated holidays together, and the Rhoades’ living room is full of pictures showing family gatherings, outings to sporting events and other activities. So it is no surprise that they have all pulled together to help and be a constant presence, Rhoades said.
Barnett said it’s the least they can do because Rhoades “sacrificed everything in her life to raise us.”
She raised six children within five years of each other and accepted two stepchildren with open arms. Unconditional love and support also have been shown to members of her extended family.
Meyer said Rhoades has been a rock and a constant source of support for the entire family. Whether she was baby-
sitting, providing a shoulder to cry on or holding hands and praying with someone in their time of need, she said, her mother has always put others before herself.
Now the family is grateful to be able to return part of the favor and help Rhoades get her life back, Meyer said.
She said that, until Rhoades’ renal disease recently became more serious, she was incredibly active. She hunted, camped, fished and enjoyed many other outdoor activities. She played with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She took care of her five dogs — all Pomeranians — and all of the children and stepchildren.
But her condition and the need for a new kidney have seriously restricted her activity and her diet. She hasn’t been able to do many things, nor has she been able to eat dairy, tomatoes, potatoes and other foods she often enjoyed before the diagnosis.
Rhoades said she can hardly wait for the transplant because it will let her start fully enjoying life again and start eating what she wants.
She is not nervous about how she will do in the surgery, she said, but rather about what it might mean for her daughter. Though donors typically take only a few weeks to recover, compared to three months for the recipient, she said she doesn’t want Boggs to be in pain at all.
Boggs, though, said she isn’t worried about herself because she is healthy. But she wants to make sure everything goes well for her mother, she said.
She said that is why she came up from her home in Lafayette, Tennessee, to have the surgery done at Indiana University Hospital in Indianapolis instead of having doctors ship the kidney more than 250 miles. She wanted to minimize the possibility for complications, which meant being in the room next door.
And while she had to take a couple of weeks off work to have her surgery at the same time and place as her mother, she was able to take vacation time, so she won’t have any loss in wages.
Through the process, Boggs learned that being a living donor is less daunting than the average person might think.
She encouraged people to be open to following her example and not to let cost deter them. There are several modes of assistance available, and there often is no cost to the living donor because the recipient’s medical insurance usually covers the cost of the donor’s surgery as well.
Rhoades and her family are optimistic about the outcome of the surgery. In fact, they’re already making plans for after the operation.
Topping Rhodes’ list: Enjoying a big banana split and going fishing again.