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Black History Month Series: Timothy Peterkin, kidney recipient

My name is Timothy Peterkin, I currently work as an Area Director for Bayada Pediatrics, homecare company in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was diagnosed with a kidney disease when I was 25 years old. The type of kidney disease I have is called Polycystic kidney disease. Polycystic kidney disease (also called PKD) is the fourth leading cause of kidney failure and currently affects over 600,000 people in the United States. PKD causes numerous cysts to grow in the kidneys, these cysts are filled with fluid. As the cysts continue to grow, they can cause the kidneys to become damaged. PKD can slowly replace much of the kidneys, reducing kidney function and leading to kidney failure. PKD runs in families. It is an inherited disorder that is passed from parents to children through genes. My mother also suffers from PKD.

Me and my donor Cathy have only met once in person before the kidney transplant journey began, and that was the weekend before I started dialysis. We met at our company Annual Awards weekend in Philadelphia in April 2019. That entire weekend was a blur as I was sick most of the time. I thought I was dealing with food poisoning as that was the diagnosis from urgent care, later I found out I was in kidney failure. Cathy let me know later we were sitting at the same table during that weekend and that my smile was how she remembered me. So, here’s a little bit more about my donor Cathy.

Cathy lives in New Hampshire and works for the Bayada office there. Cathy saw an article shared by our Practice President sharing my need for a kidney. Cathy said at that moment she wanted to find a way to help. Cathy is one of the most selfless people you will ever get the chance to meet. I know often people ask her, why did you donate to someone who was a stranger? You can hear her compassion through her response, “I am really fortunate to be very healthy, and if I can share that health with someone, I will. I'm just so glad we were a match. I've got this wonderful man in my life now.” Cathy went to Emory and Duke to see if she could possibly be a match for me. The journey took almost a year and the day before the surgery, me and Cathy finally got to meet again in person and break bread. Through this entire journey we have a bond that is so close, and we now refer to each other as brother and sister. And soon we are getting matching tattoos to honor our experience.

On November 9, 2021, me and Cathy went to Emory Hospital in Atlanta, GA at 5am. We met in the parking lot and dressed up in our kidney shirts. Once surgery was complete, me and Cathy were able to chat about the surgery experience, and we got to ring our lap around the floor bell on day 2. Cathy was able to be discharged on Wednesday of that week, and I was discharged on that Friday. After transplant, I stayed at the Mason House in Atlanta which allowed me the opportunity to be close to the hospital and have my room, bathroom, and shared big kitchen. I was able to get up to two miles a day walking within the first few weeks. Walking is good after surgery to get those bones up and moving.

A few things I would like to share about the kidney journey:

Don’t hesitate to share your story on social media. (I shared my story on company forums and Facebook.)

Don’t be afraid to look beyond family for a possible match. (One of my co-workers was a match.)

Getting a transplant can lead to no more dialysis and help with getting you back to a normal way of life.

View Timothy and Cathy’s story featured by WSOC news channel 9: Charlotte man receives kidney from stranger in New Hampshire.