Hello, my name is Veida Lekakh, and I’m writing on behalf of my mother, Lidia Lekakh. Mom is 58 years old and lives in Portland, Oregon. She raised two daughters, my sister Liza (33), and me (19). Liza has also given Mom two adorable grandchildren: Ezekiel (7), and Yoheved, (5). In addition, she is the caring mother of 4 rescued kittens and a dog. In her free time, Mom gardens and stitches gorgeous beadwork pictures of sacred places around the world.
In 1980, while pregnant with Liza, Mom was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Since pregnancy causes the condition, it often subsides after the child is born. However, gestational diabetes heightens the risk of developing Type II diabetes later on, and this was the case with my mom. At the time, she was living in the former Soviet Union, where diabetes was treated with fructose tablets (sugar). For 10 years, she was treated with sugar, which only made her condition worse.
If I had to choose one word to describe my mother, it would be “selfless.” All her life, Mom has put others first. After she and her elderly parents moved to the U.S. in 1991, she spent her time caring for her parents and my sister while also attending school and working part-time. She worked as a nurse’s aide, cleaned houses, and babysat to make ends meet.
Due to a familial condition, my mother was menopausal by the age of 35. Although it had been 5 years since her last cycle, Mom suddenly became pregnant at the age of 40 . . . with ME! Given her age and diabetic condition, she was advised to abort me for her own safety. However, my mother believes in the sanctity of life and chose to bring me into this world. More than anything I wish I could repay her now.
Following my birth, life was not easy. Health and family issues left my father unable to support us. Essentially, Mom became a single parent, and we struggled financially. Moreover, her parents’ health began to decline. My grandfather had multiple heart attacks, cancer, and kidney failure. We lost him 5 years ago, and Mom--having cared for him many years--took it very hard. Soon after that, my grandmother’s mind and body declined rapidly, and she began having mini-strokes. She spent 2 years in hospice care, and the constant threat of her death took a great toll on my mother. Within months of my grandmother’s death, Mom’s kidneys failed, and she was forced to go on dialysis.
Mom has been on dialysis and on the list for a deceased-donor kidney since June, 2013. However, the estimated wait for a kidney in our area is 3 or more years. To complicate matters, she has an uncommon condition known as intradialytic hypertension: Although her blood pressure is fine at home, it jumps to dangerous levels . . . as high as 250/120 . . . as soon as dialysis begins. This puts her at extremely high risk of stroke during dialysis. Despite having tried a multitude of blood-pressure medications, doctors have been unable to curb Mom’s condition. Survival rates on dialysis with this complication are very small . . . so every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, when Mom leaves for dialysis, she says goodbye to Liza and me as if it may be her last farewell. We’re blessed that she is still with us, but we live in anxiety and fear that intradialytic hypertension will kill her before she receives a transplant. Unfortunately, because our entire family is plagued with diabetes, none of us is eligible to donate a kidney. Thus, we must turn to people like you for help.
Mom has Type B blood, but because her transplant center at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) participates in paired donation, a person of any blood type can donate. You don’t have to be a resident of Oregon, and all medical expenses are covered by Mom’s insurance. Assistance programs to cover the cost of transportation, lodging, meals, and car rental are available; in the event that we or a donor are ineligible for such a program, we will cover those costs ourselves.
If you would like more information about OHSU’s living donor program, click here. Or, to speak with someone personally, you may contact OHSU’s living donor coordinator, Lori Hansen, at 1-800-452-1369, ext. 8500. Lori is also the person to contact if you would like to arrange testing to see if you could be my mother’s donor. In addition, there is a wealth of information on this website that answers questions about living donation. In particular, you may wish to visit the Donor’s Stories pages, where previous living donors share their experiences.
My mother is a strong and wonderful person. She is not just Liza’s and my mother, she is our best friend. I desperately want her attend my wedding one day, and beyond that, to meet her future grandchildren. More than anything in the world, Liza and I would like to find that special person who is willing to give her the Gift of Life.
Please help our family stay whole by considering living donation. If you are unable to donate but would like to help, please share my mother’s story with others by clicking icons below. Thank you so very much!