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Success Stories

Veteran Donates Kidney to Fellow Comrade



A Life-Saving Donation

kidney_transplant2It was a normal day one November, back in 2014, when local carpet designer Candice Murray had a passing thought: she would like to donate a kidney. Though it was only a thought at first, Candice decided to research live-donor kidney transplants and reached out to a friend at church who had recently gone through the process for a family member. The very next week, after chatting with a friend who had polycystic kidney disease — though not in need of a kidney — Candice felt even more compelled to go through with a donation.

Candice informed her husband of her plans, and while he was concerned for her health, he supported the idea. “That night, we went to see a movie. When we realized that the main character was in need of a kidney transplant, it solidified the decision. I knew that I was called to do this,” she said.

But first, Candice needed to find a recipient. So, she called her church pastor to see if he knew of anyone that might be in need.

Meanwhile, Tiffany Fritts was an average eighth grade student, enjoying time with her friends. While sitting in class one day, she noticed excessive swelling in her feet and hands. She’d experienced colds, the flu, and a recent bout with strep infections, but nothing out of the ordinary — so this was a big concern.

Tiffany quickly sought the expert care at Erlanger Health System, where doctors determined the swelling was caused by her kidneys — operating at only 48% of normal function. She had developed chronic kidney disease.

Typically associated with diabetes and high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease causes a slow deterioration of kidney function over time. As it gets worse, waste builds up in the body and causes high blood pressure, anemia, weakened bones and nerves, poor nutritional health, and kidney failure.

Felix Espinoza

Felix received a donor kidney from his son MiguelFour years of kidney dialysis treatments left Felix Espinoza feeling sick and weak. “It was really bad,” recalls the Cleveland, Tenn., resident. Then his youngest son, Miguel, 24, stepped up to donate a kidney to his father. The decision, according to the younger Espinoza, was not difficult. “He gave me life,” says Miguel.  Adds Felix:  “He liked to do it because he loves me.”

In April 2006, Miguel Espinoza of Ooltewah underwent a new, less invasive laparoscopic kidney removal at the Erlanger Kidney Transplant Center, and his father immediately received the new kidney. The Espinozas recovered in hospital rooms across the hall from one another, continuing the circle of life that began six months earlier with the birth of Emilio, Miguel’s son and Felix’s grandson, at the Erlanger Baroness Campus