A Stony Brook man is hoping for a holiday miracle.
Frank Orlik has taken to social media to share his mother’s medical journey. Orlik said he’s been posting about his mother’s search for a kidney donor on Facebook and has been making the posts public with the hope that his connections will share them, and someone will be moved to donate one of their organs.
“This year has been one of so much heartache for me and her,” he said.
His mother, Teresa Orlik, was diagnosed with kidney disease two years ago and recently had to start dialysis. She said the condition runs in her family and was most likely brought on by type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Her three sons are unable to donate a kidney since they all have the potential to come down with the disease.
Recently Orlik and her husband sold their house of 46 years in Stony Brook, and they have been living in Palm Coast, Florida, a short distance from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville where she is receiving medical treatment.
Dr. Hani Wadei of the Mayo Clinic said when a patient’s kidney function is at or below 20 milliliters per minute, or he or she is on dialysis, a patient can be considered eligible for a transplant.
“We do not have to wait for the kidney function to deteriorate to the point of needing dialysis to get on the transplant waiting list,” Wadei said. “In fact, studies have shown that getting a transplant before starting dialysis is actually better as it improves post-transplant outcomes.”
The doctor said living kidney donors undergo an extensive evaluation which “ensures that a potential donor has a minimal risk of kidney disease after kidney donation.”
The evaluation analyzes potential medical, surgical and psychological complications, and anyone with risks is eliminated, according to Wadei. While a donor may still be at risk for end-stage renal disease, he said recent studies have shown that the possibility after donation is less than 1 percent. The lifetime risk in the healthy population is less than 0.2 percent.
The doctor said he explains to potential donors they can live with one kidney, and they must follow a healthy lifestyle after donation that includes avoiding certain medications, monitoring their health closely and following up with their primary physician. He said after donation the remaining kidney compensates for some of the organ’s function lost from donating the other one.
A donor can live anywhere and have initial blood work and urine testing done by their own doctors and lab services, according to the doctor. However, if they pass initial tests, in the case of Orlik, they must travel to Florida to meet her doctors. A patient’s insurance will usually take care of the donor’s medical expenses for anything involved with the donation, including up to three years of follow-ups.
Frank Orlik said during his mother’s medical crisis he has learned so much about organ donations. For example, he found out about kidney swaps where a living donor is incompatible with the intended recipient, but exchanges kidneys with another donor-recipient pair. Discovering this aspect has made him even more hopeful that his mother will get a kidney.
“I’m praying for a miracle that someone will be able to be a living donor for her,” he said.
Teresa Orlik said her son using social media to spread the word about her search has made her optimistic.
“It gives me tremendous hope that we’ll be successful,” she said.
Anyone interested in helping Teresa Orlik can contact her case coordinator, Tita Bordinger-Herron, at 904-956-3259.