Friends forever: Sheremy to give a kidney to Kaylee
It's a tale of a friendship that has lasted and grown throughout the years. Kaylee Edgehouse VanWagoner and Sheremy Curtis McEvoy have been friends since junior high. They were on the drill team together at San Rafael Junior High. They entered Emery High and spent their three years there laughing and playing with some learning thrown in along the way.
Sheremy even pitched in when it was time to move Kaylee off to Snow College in Ephraim. They grew up and began living their lives always keeping in touch and making sure their friendship stayed alive over the years. Sheremy introduced Kaylee to Mike VanWagoner who is her cousin soon after he returned from his mission and Kaylee and Mike met and went for a ride and the rest is history as they fell fast in love and were married a short time later.
After the birth of their first son Cage, they reached a bump in the road and Kaylee began suffering from health problems. Just a short time after his birth Kaylee began to swell up and in two days she gained 40 pounds of water. She had thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and hemolytic uremic syndrome after her son was born. As a result of this her kidney's both shut down. She was life flighted to the University of Utah where she started with plasmapheresis and kidney dialysis. TTP is when your red blood cells start bursting. Plasmapheresis is a plasma exchange. The doctors thought her kidney function would resume, but it never did. Kaylee had been on dialysis for seven months when it was discovered her brother Kasey was a good match.
The surgery took place on Jan. 13, 2006. This kidney lasted three and a half years during that time there were troubles with the kidney. Kaylee's body tried rejecting the kidney three times. The kidney was bioposied many times and developed scar tissue. Several things went wrong, Kaylee wasn't healthy at the time of the surgery. That kidney was removed and since that time Kaylee has been on dialysis for the last two years. "Dialysis is my life. Everything I do has to be planned around my dialysis. I go there at 6 a.m. and I try to sleep during the four hours of treatment. My family has been great. They watch Cage three days a week so I can go have my dialysis. We can't ever go anywhere that dialysis isn't available should I need it. We have gone to Provo and spent the night a couple of times, but mostly I stick close to home so I can have my treatments."
Kaylee is the daughter of Joe and Kim Edgehouse of Castle Dale. Kim said, "Since that first surgery we have learned that female patients should receive kidneys from female donors and males should receive kidneys from male donors."
Kaylee said, "I am on the donor list and have had four phone calls. But, no one was a perfect match. Sixteen different people have been tested, but there weren't any matches. I didn't know my best friend Sheremy was being tested, but on Easter weekend the hospital called and said she was a match. I was so happy, shocked, surprised and ecstatic."
Sheremy said, "For some reason I always had a feeling I was a match. I was going to get tested the first time Kaylee needed a kidney, but then Kasey was a match, so it didn't come to that. When I found out Kasey's kidney had failed, I knew I wanted to do something, but I was pregnant at the time with my daughter Alex. My daughter is 15 months old now and I just knew I needed to be tested. So I was and on Easter weekend the hospital called and left a message on my phone because we were out on the desert that said I was a match and to let them know if I wanted to proceed. So I talked to my family and they didn't want me to tell Kaylee until after further tests were done to make sure everything was OK to move ahead, but the hospital had already called Kaylee and then she called me and said she didn't know I was being tested. She was so excited that I was going to do this for her. But, how could I not. This is her life. I need to help out if I can. The surgery is scheduled for July 8. We will go up a couple of days before. I am excited and happy to do it."
Kaylee explained on surgery day, Sheremy will go into surgery about an hour before Kaylee. The doctors will get the kidney ready to be placed in Kaylee. There won't be much time in getting the kidney traded from one friend to the other. The surgery is extensive and will last approximately four and a half hours.
Kim said the donor surgery has improved since 2006 when the first operation took place. The surgery to remove the kidney is laser surgery now and there won't be as big of an incision for Sheremy to deal with and her recovery time will be less. She will remain in the hospital for four days and after that she can't lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk for a month. Sheremy is married to Robert McEvoy and they are the parents of Alex 15 months and Logan is 4. Sheremy is a stay at home mom where she enjoys raising her family. During her down time she expects a lot of help to come in from her surrounding family as they have been very supportive of Sheremy's decision to share a kidney with a friend. Husband Robert is also supportive of Sheremy's decision to become a donor. "I'm a little nervous, but I'm supportive because it's what Sheremy wants to do."
Kaylee is so happy, "I will feel so much better. This kidney will give my life back."
Kim said, "The dialysis is hard on Kaylee. There are so many changes in your body. She has no energy and her blood pressure fluctuates so much. Dialysis is hard. But, without dialysis she wouldn't be here, so we are grateful for dialysis. It has kept her alive until a donor could be matched. I can't describe what we feel for Sheremy's willingness to do this for Kaylee. She will give Kaylee back her life that's been consumed by dialysis. Kaylee will be able to spend more time with her child."
Joe spoke of his little grandson Cage who has been through so much with his mom's illness. He is great to take along on visits to the hospital and never causes any fuss. Whenever he has to have a shot, he just takes it like a man and says, 'I'm tough like my mom.'
Kaylee will have to be on a lot of medicine for the rest of her life including three anti-rejection drugs. She said, "After the first surgery I was on 68 pills a day. They put you on a lot of stuff. My immune system will be way down after the surgery."
In order to be considered a good match the antibodies in the donor need to match those in the person needing a kidney. The fact that Sheremy is a match is a one in a billion probability.
Kaylee and Sheremy laugh and say they have been sharing germs since junior high so that's what makes the pair such a good match. Kaylee said they did everything together for years and so their germs think alike.
Kaylee said, "She is giving me back my life. I will be in the hospital for eight days and will need to stick close to the hospital for six weeks after the surgery in case of rejection."
Kim said, "It's been tough and I would switch places with her in a second." Kaylee says she's glad she's the one going through it, she knows it's stressful on her family.
The entire family was joyful on Easter weekend and Joe said it was the best Easter ever. The family was gathered on the desert when the news came that Sheremy was a match and Kaylee's brothers were jumping around celebrating and yelling. "It's a match, it's a miracle." The whole family feels like celebrating now as Kaylee's dialysis treatments that are left can be counted in days.
There isn't a family member more grateful it's a match than Kaylee's husband Mike. Mike works for the Emery County Sheriff's Office. It might be stressful being a cop, but having a wife on dialysis has put more than one gray hair on Mike's head.
Mike said, "I'm excited. I have been tested myself and I was a close match, but then Kaylee's antibodies changed again so I wasn't a match any more. But, we thought I was going to be able to be a donor. I wanted to give a kidney to a stranger and then have someone who matched somewhere give Kaylee a kidney, but we didn't have to pursue that anymore once we got that phone call that said Sheremy was a match."
Kim said the surgery will be expensive and insurance doesn't cover everything so they are planning some fundraisers for Kaylee. An account has been set up at Zion's Bank where contributions can be made. They are gathering items for a raffle to be held during the county fair. You can purchase tickets for the raffle from family members, at the pool and at Magnuson Lumber. Tickets will be sold during the fair.
Joe said they couldn't have made it through without family and friends.
The family said, "We want to thank everyone for their prayers, support and thoughts. We are lucky to live in Emery County where everyone is so willing to help out and people care and support you."
Kaylee has maintained a good attitude throughout her ordeal and plans to keep the same laughter and can do attitude as she approaches another surgery. "Sometimes I feel like crap and it's hard. But, I've found an inner strength. I have my moments, but I just go with it and get through it. I think it could be worse. I could have something they don't know how to fix. At least I have options. Some people don't have that."
So Kaylee and Sheremy will make it through their surgery laughing and teasing each other that the other one is weird and when they're done they will be forever friends and forever have something more in common: twin kidneys. Their futures are joined forever through the love of two good friends for each other and one's willingness to share.