In a process that is just over 17 years in the making, Rudeseal received a kidney transplant from donor Jaimee Odom Sharp, of Rockmart.
After a routine urinalysis at Rudeseal’s physician, it was discovered that she had a large amount of blood and protein in her urine, a sign of possible kidney disease.
On Jan. 21, 1993, Rudesea’s 21st birthday, she underwent a kidney biopsy at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta.
She was diagnosed with IGA nephropathy, which is an autoimmune kidney disease which means her immune system was attacking her kidneys much like rheumatoid arthritis attacks one’s joints.
Doctors told her that about half of the patients with this disease went under dialysis, while the other half had some loss of function, but did not have to undergo dialysis or a kidney transplant. Additionally, doctors told her that was not much that could be done except for some diet modifications and staying away from certain medications.
From there, Rudeseal went on having a relatively normal life. She went to school for medical assisting, got married and had a child.
Over the ensuing years, however, she slowly lost kidney function until late 2006 when her function started to rapidly decline.
By March 2007, she was on automated peritoneal dialysis, which meant that every night she would hook a cather up to a machine that did her dialysis at night while she slept.
Rudeseal feels that this is a blessing of sorts, because it has allowed her to continue working and taking care of her family, but it is also limiting as there are a lot of supplies that go with the machine and she has to be on a very set schedule to maintain her health through the dialysis.
Rudeseal met Sharp in November 2009 when she served as Sharp’s supervisor and trainer at a medical transcription company in Taylorsville called Southern Transcription Services, Inc.
According to Rudeseal, Sharp was eager to help once she discovered her supervisor was in need.
“I mentioned to Jaimee that I am on dialysis and in need of a kidney transplant,” Rudeseal said.
“Jaimee did not hesitate, she immediately asked for my transplant coordinator’s name as she wanted to be tested to see if she was a match,” she added.
Sharp is not stranger to the transplantation process, as her father has had two liver transplants. Because of the generosity shown to her father, Sharp wanted to help out someone in need, even if she barely knew them.
“I was amazed at her positive, unselfish attitude and her willingness to be tested for a complete stranger,” Rudeseal said.
The pair had to have blood drawn on the same day and then have it sent to the transplant lab to see if it matched. To Rudeseal’s surprise, the tests came back as a match even though the two are not related.
Shortly after receiving these results, the process began to move quickly. Rudeseal received a call from Sharp. Sharp asked her to guess where she was.
As it turns out, she was at Piedmont Hospital having her physical evaluation to make sure she had no medical issues that would keep her from donating her kidney.
Within two weeks, the committee met and decided that indeed Sharp was a suitable candidate.
On Thursday, Sharp underwent an assisted laparoscopic removal of her kidney, and was expected to be hospitalized for three or four days. She is expected to return to work in two or three weeks.
Rudeseal will have a six to eight week recovery period following surgery.
A reporter contacted Rudeseal’s sister, LaCrista Ferrell, on Friday to find out how the transplant went.
Ferrell reported that the surgery went well and that doctors were pleased with how well the transplanted kidney was working.
Ferrell has began fund raisers to assist in her sister’s recovery. T-shirts are being sold to raise money for both Rudeseal and Sharp.
For anyone interested in purchasing a shirt, contact LaCrista Ferrell at 770-324-1374, or Kim Hatch at 770-748-3127.
The family has also established a savings account at Coosa Valley Credit Union to which anyone can donate. Donations should be given to the Kidney Transplant Fund.