In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

January 5, 2017

Daughter Helps Brighten the Holidays for Mother by Giving Her a Kidney

By In the Loop

When Dease Charais’s 40-year battle with lupus led to early stage kidney failure last year, her daughter Cathy Carchedi didn’t hesitate in offering to donate one of her kidneys to her mother.

We don't want to be presumptuous, but we'd guess 2016's award for "Best Christmas Gift Given to a Mother" (if there were such a thing) would go to Cathy Carchedi of North Branch, Minnesota. That's because just before this past holiday season kicked into full swing, Cathy offered to give her mom, Dease Charais, the gift of a kidney. Without it, Dease was facing dialysis as the result of early stage kidney failure brought on by a long battle with lupus. And as Dease's hometown newspaper, Forest Lake Times reports, it wasn't the first time Cathy had made her mom that offer.

According to the Times, Cathy was just 16 years old when her mom was diagnosed with lupus. And after hearing that kidney failure could be an eventual consequence of the chronic disease, she was ready to step up. "If you need a kidney, I'll give you one," Cathy recalls telling Dease at the time. "I was just a kid."

But a transplant wasn't necessary. Instead, Dease was able to keep her lupus in check for nearly four decades with regular doctor visits and checkups, the paper reports. Early last year, however, tests showed that Dease's kidneys were beginning to fail, and her medical team began talking about dialysis. It was at that point that Cathy and the rest of Dease's family stepped in, according to the paper, telling Dease, "How about we give you a kidney instead?"

The Times reports that it took some time (and "family discussions") for Dease to relent. "She didn't want me to do it," Cathy says. But after initial tests showed Cathy to be a "viable match," Dease accepted her daughter's life-saving gift. The family traveled to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus for the remaining tests and qualification process. Once all tests and exams checked out, Cathy and Dease's care teams at Mayo gave them "the green light" for the kidney transplant.

Since the successful transplant and recovery, Cathy and Dease have been able to resume some of their favorite mother-daughter activities — including embarking on a "daylong shopping spree" this past November.

"I can say honestly it was a piece of cake — a breeze," Cathy tells the paper of her transplant experience at Mayo Clinic. And she tells us that both she and Dease were "very happy" with their care teams along the way. "Everyone was wonderful," she says. "Admissions staff to surgeons to everyone in between!"

And now that they've been through the organ donation process from start to finish, Cathy tells us she and Dease both encourage others to register to become organ donors. "It's so easy," she says. "Just contact Mayo Clinic!"

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Tags: Kidney transplant, Lupus, Patient Stories

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