Almost 40 years ago doctors gave Ardell Howard life-altering news. She was in kidney failure, a disorder in which the kidneys are no longer able to remove waste and balance fluids. It was the same condition that eventually took her mother’s life.
This news was the beginning of a journey for Howard. Luckily, the Carlos and Marguerite Mason Solid Organ Transplant Center at Augusta University Medical Center and Dr. Laura Mulloy, chief of the division of nephrology, were by Howard’s side every step of the way.
The first step was to begin kidney dialysis, which is the process that purifies the blood of a person whose kidneys are not operating normally. A typical dialysis treatment can last for an average of four hours.
Howard underwent dialysis for more than five years. The treatment was so time consuming that eventually Howard had to quit working. Her kidneys became her life.
Everything changed, though, when doctors told Howard that she was selected to receive a kidney transplant.
“It was jubilant to have my life back again,” she said. “It’s extraordinary to go from dialysis, which is so debilitating, to being able to feel good.”
Howard returned to her job and worked an additional 23 years before retiring in December 2017.
The kidney transplant did more than enable her to return to work, though. It also allowed her to be able to care for her family again.
“I had a daughter who was fully disabled and required constant care,” Howard said. “The transplant gave me the strength to care for her and to be active in the lives of my other children.”
It’s been 25 years since Howard’s kidney transplant, and she credits Augusta University Medical Center and, of course, her kidney for giving her a new lease on life.
“It was a wonderful experience, and it’s been a wonderful life,” Howard said. “I realize most transplants don’t last as long as mine has. I’m very thankful.”
Since 1968, AU Health’s Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program has conducted over 2,600 transplants and continues being a nationwide leader in transplantation care. On Sept. 29, the medical center will hold a 50th Anniversary Celebration for the program giving patients, donors and staff an opportunity to meet and share their stories. For more information about this event or the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program, call 706-721-2888.
About AU Health’s Transplant Program
Augusta University Health is home to the 14,000-square-foot Carlos and Marguerite Mason Solid Organ Transplant Center, and over 2,600 lifesaving kidney and pancreas transplants have been performed at the medical center since 1968. AU Health is one of 19 hospitals in the United States and the only medical center in Georgia, to be selected to take part in the initial Collaborative Innovation and Improvement Network that aims to improve kidney transplantation nationwide. AU Health is also a two-time national Kidney Transplant Center of Excellence.