By Jeff Clark/Monroe Journal
GATTMAN – The gift of life for Regina McKay is something researchers are studying and can hopefully continue the gift of life for others.
For a long time, Gattman’s McKay had kidney problems, but doctors were not too concerned about it until the birth of her daughter 11 years ago. That’s when they started monitoring her creatinine levels.
It was around June 2008 when her creatinine levels would go up one point every time they were checked.
Things happened quickly, and she was put on kidney dialysis in September 2008. She had to have kidney dialysis four times a day.
The McKays transformed a home office into a sterile room and she was able to take her kidney dialysis treatments at home. She was mostly confined to home because if she went anywhere she worried about getting back in time to have her treatment.
Around May 2009, McKay went to the University of Alabama Birmingham for evaluation to see if she was a candidate for a kidney transplant. That same day, they drew blood to see if her husband, Nick, could be a donor. The tests confirmed a match and plans were then made for the transplant.
“It was a blessing that Nick was a match,” said Regina.
Nick had gotten laid off from True Temper on May 1, where he had worked in maintenance. They needed to have the transplant while the insurance coverage was still in effect.
The transplant took place July 28 at UAB, and Regina and Nick have made a wonderful recovery. Regina will take anti-rejection medicine the rest of her life. She is currently taking 13 pills in the morning and 10 pills at night. She periodically has to have her creatinine levels checked to make sure they stay within the limits.
“I feel great,” Regina said. “Actually, I feel like a bird out of a cage. I feel so good I don’t know what to do with myself.”
Nick hasn’t had any repercussions from the transplant. He was on lifting restrictions for about one month. Now he is getting ready to start a new job in maintenance at Cooper Tire.
UAB is doing a study on the McKays to see how Nick’s DNA will affect Regina.
Regina’s father and grandfather also had to have kidney transplants, but she was told her kidney problems were not genetic. Blood pressure problems contributed to her kidney problems and also her father’s.
The McKays have a son, Justin, who is a Navy gunner’s mate on a ship off the coast of Iran, and an 11-year-old daughter, Angelica, who is a sixth-grader at Sulligent Elementary School.