Baby Anna Leigh Henning was fighting for her life even before she was born. She was born prematurely at 30 weeks and is currently in the NICU. This sweet little girl has a long, difficult road ahead of her and desperately needs help.
In 2010, Anna Leigh's mother, Sheri, gave birth to a baby boy named Jacob Aden. Sheri was distraught to learn he was suffering from junctional epidermolysis bullosa (JEB), a rare disease causing the skin to blister upon the simplest touch. JEB can also affect the mouth, esophagus and internal organs, making it difficult for babies to eat. Jacob lost his health battle after just seven weeks.
In 2011, Sheri became pregnant with twin girls. Just before Christmas, she received the devastating news that Anna Leigh also had JEB, but the other baby did not, and her bone marrow could save Anna Leigh's life. The plan was to relocate to Minnesota during Sheri's 34th week of pregnancy, where a team of doctors has been doing groundbreaking work in treating JEB. The babies would be monitored, and Anna Leigh's own stem cells and bone marrow from her twin would be harvested. After a few months, Anna Leigh would undergo chemotherapy and a stem cell and bone marrow transplant, using the treated cells and marrow from her twin sister and herself.
Sadly, Sheri required an emergency C-section when she was just 30 weeks pregnant, and the healthy twin did not survive. Plans are still in place for Anna Leigh to undergo the transplant, and she and Sheri will be transferred to Minnesota soon.
It has been called a miracle. A couple took in a stranger and more than 20 years later that stranger would save one of of their lives.
Mikie and Rita Casem were living in Washington D.C. in 1979 when their priest told them about a teenage girl who was pregnant and had nowhere to go.
Mickie remembers what the priest told him when the couple decided to take in Theresa Palumbo.
"When we told Father Wells we were going to take Theresa in, he looked me in the eye and said 'you'll never regret this'," he said.
Casem says Theresa became a member of the family in the time she stayed with them.
"The whole seven months that she was there, she just literally poured out her heart to us and shared openly with us just as if she was one of our children," he said.
Theresa Palumbo went on to have a son named Jonathan. She went to college and later married Jonathan's father, Jeff.
The Casem's retired to New Bern but they stayed in touch over the years. During a recent phone call in 2010 Mikie told Theresa one of his kidneys was failing.
Mikie had a number of willing donors, but none of them were compatible. Theresa however, was a perfect match.
After months of tests and doctors visits, the transplant happened on February second.
"They took the staples out of my scar and each visit, I get a little more free reign. I still have to take it easy. Today, three and a half weeks out of surgery, I'm walking a half a mile," he explained.
And he owes it all to Theresa Palumbo.
Mikie Casem is nearly finished with a book he's writing about his experience. It will be titled "Circle of Grace." He hopes to have it published later this year.
If you have high blood pressure, diabetes or a family history of kidney disease, you're at risk for chronic kidney disease (CKD). But there is some good news. With a healthy diet and regular exercise, preventing CKD is not as difficult as you might think.
Be sure to get 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 times a week. Of that, 10 minutes at least 2 or 3 times a week should include light weight training.
If you have trouble with your back or joints, swimming or walking in water will help achieve good cardio performance. Swimming is the best physical activity of all because it keeps all weight off the joints, causing no wear and tear.
Take the stairs wherever possible, instead of riding the elevator or escalator.
Get in the habit of biking or walking, rather than driving, while running errands or heading to appointments.
If you're planning to do highly vigorous physical activity, stay well-hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids and keep a water bottle handy.
Of the more than 113,000 Americans currently awaiting organ transplants, 91,000 are waiting for a kidney.
Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, accounting for 44% of the new cases. Nearly 215,000 people are living with kidney failure resulting from diabetes.
Uncontrolled or poorly controlled high blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure in the country, accounting for 26% of all cases.
The third and fourth leading causes of kidney failure in the U.S. are glomerulonephritis, an inflammatory disease of the kidneys, and polycystic kidney disease.
CKD hits minorities disproportionately, with African Americans affected at a rate of nearly three times that of Caucasians as the number of new cases of kidney failure per million is 783 for African Americans and 295 for whites. Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and the elderly are also at increased risk.
Each year, more than 88,000 Americans die from causes related to kidney failure.
CKD continues to be a major cause of lost productivity, physician visits and hospitalizations among men and women.
The National Foundation for Transplants is a nonprofit organization that has been helping transplant patients overcome financial obstacles since 1983. NFT provides fundraising support and advocacy to patients by organizing fundraising campaigns in the patients’ own communities. NFT currently assists nearly 800 transplant candidates and recipients nationwide.