Patient thanks her caregiver after successful transplant

(BPT) - The holiday season presents the opportunity to pause and express gratitude to those that have touched our lives. For former dialysis patient and recent kidney transplant recipient Ingrid Codrington, her biggest “thank you” is to a woman who changed her life when she needed it the most.

The bus ride to DaVita South Florida Dialysis in Hollywood, Florida, is routine for Codrington. After being diagnosed with end stage renal disease (ESRD) in 2012, she has gone to the clinic three times a week for her four-hour dialysis treatment. She knew dialysis was sustaining her life, but it wasn’t how she wanted to live forever. Since Codrington faced tremendous physical and emotional challenges with dialysis, she pursued a kidney transplant in hopes of achieving a better quality of life.

To become eligible for a kidney transplant, she needed to either find a living donor or achieve active status on the kidney transplant waitlist. However, in the six years she’d been on dialysis, she never expressed an interest in receiving a kidney transplant to her DaVita Integrated care team. She was overwhelmed and viewed the process as daunting. “There were so many times that I would have an appointment, but feel too exhausted to make it on the bus, or I would forget to finish paperwork on time. When I was on dialysis, I never felt completely like myself, and I viewed the kidney transplant process as challenging in the midst of trying to maintain my health,” Codrington shared.

Luckily for her, DaVita South Florida Dialysis is part of an ESRD Seamless Care Organization (ESCO), a Comprehensive ESRD Care (CEC) Model administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The CEC model enables providers to address the patient’s total health needs inside and outside of the dialysis center. This holistic approach helps coordinate care for patients facing multiple illnesses, helps resolve non-medical barriers and helps patients navigate a fragmented health care system.

Selimah Francois, an integrated care nurse at the DaVita South Florida ESCO, witnessed Codrington balancing treatments with the demands of her everyday life and sensed she was struggling. Francois asked Codrington a simple question: “What’s your plan?”

When Codrington shared she wanted to get a kidney transplant, Francois immediately began to help her. She created a checklist of what needed to be done, helped gather the necessary paperwork and simplified what Codrington saw as an insurmountable task. For Codrington, the additional support gave her the personal time and attention she needed to help her be successful in preparing to qualify for a transplant.

In less than a month, Codrington was referred to a transplant center, evaluated by the transplant center team and given an active status on a kidney transplant waitlist. She felt a new sense of hope because she was officially on the kidney transplant waitlist.

“Getting on the waitlist made the likelihood of getting a new kidney real,” said Codrington. “I relied on my DaVita integrated care team to educate me on what life after a transplant looks like. They helped prepare me emotionally and financially for the transition.”

Codrington joined nearly 93,000 others on the kidney transplant waitlist, and faced an average wait time of 3-5 years according to the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS). Transitioning from dialysis to a kidney transplant is a major change for patients. They need to take medication that suppresses their immune system so that their bodies don’t reject the kidney. Additionally, they are required to continue on this medication after they receive a transplant. Codrington wanted to be prepared.

“While I was waiting for my kidney, I worked hard to build my savings to be comfortable with the cost of medication and transportation to my doctor visits,” she said.

Codrington received her kidney transplant in April 2018. She says she is forever grateful for Francois, who not only took time to notice, but cared and helped when Codrington didn’t know if she could do it by herself. Codrington’s kidney transplant has given her the gift of more energy and time to spend with her loved ones. She’s living life on her own terms again.