When Kaitlyn was a freshman, she was very active, playing every sport her school offered including volleyball, basketball and cheerleading, but began noticing extreme exhaustion and a lack of desire to participate in things she loved. “It all just hit at once, I just wanted to go to school and come home to sleep,” Kaitlyn says.
Kaitlyn’s mother, Regina, felt her daughter’s state warranted a visit to the local Emergency Department. There, doctors discovered Kaitlyn had extremely elevated creatine levels and she was transferred to Children’s Medical Center Dallas immediately. Once at Children’s, Kaitlyn’s doctors diagnosed her with End Stage Renal Disease and put her on peritoneal dialysis due to infections and obtrusive uropathy. Quickly after her diagnosis (only three days after celebrating Christmas with her family in Dec. 2012) she was put on peritoneal dialysis for a total of eight months before receiving her transplant.
On Aug. 5, 2013, Kaitlyn received a living, related kidney transplant from her aunt, Lori Robertson. “I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I have a pretty good kidney,” Kaitlyn mentions with a smile.
When Kaitlyn traveled home after surgery, she was grateful to be able to move freely once again without the restrictions of dialysis. “It is so weird being able to go to the kitchen in the middle of the night and grab a snack; if I’m hungry or thirsty, I just get up and go!”
Kaitlyn is one of the first patients at Children’s Health who has been approved to be part of the recently launched Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) program, by which Kaitlyn can access her doctors remotely from home.
The ability to make “clinic visits” through the RPM program has helped keep her on track with her multiple medications and healthy. Since Kaitlyn lives 45 minutes away from the Dallas campus, it’s also been huge convenience for her and her family. “It’s a really cool thing what [Children’s Health] has done. It benefits patients in a lot of ways.”
Although she’s grateful to be home, Kaitlyn enjoyed her stay at Children’s Medical Center Dallas. “The nurses I think were my favorite part; the nurses and my doctor,” Kaitlyn recalls. “When I was in the ICU, one of my favorite nurses brought me a blanket from the gift shop and gave it to me before she left so that was really sweet.”
After this life-changing experience, Kaitlyn looks at life in a new way. “Before all this happened to me, I wanted to be an interior or fashion designer, but now my goal is to help people,” Kaitlyn says. “I’d like to be an X-ray technician or a paramedic and if I do become one of those, I’d want to work at Children’s Health because it’s a good environment. Everyone is so sweet and so nice. It’s a good place with good people to be around.”
As someone who lived and survived something so challenging first hand, Kaitlyn has a strong message for current and future patients who might suffer through hardships. “Everything will be okay. It’s important to realize that this is a little bump in the road and it may seem big at the time but looking back on it you’ll be like, ‘Oh my goodness, here I am now and I can’t even believe this is me, this is who I am,’ Kaitlyn expresses. “You go through such a huge thing and it changes you completely, but it changes you in a good way. You look at life completely differently, you’re thankful. It’s so hard that children have to go through tough situations, but it matures you and gives you an entirely new perspective on life.”