Minister grateful for his second chance at life
“The journey really took off after the transplant,” shares Dr. Patrick Gee. “Everything I went through with this transplant. Everything that I went through while I was on peritoneal dialysis. Everything that I went through with being hard-headed and not wanting to take care of myself led to divine intervention.”
In 2003, Patrick was diagnosed with type II diabetes and soon after was also diagnosed with hypertension. Both conditions are the leading causes of kidney disease.
“I’m on every kind of medication for each one, but I’m ignoring what the physicians tell me to do as far as taking care of myself,” Patrick remembers.
In 2013, he was working two jobs, sleeping only a couple hours a night, eating poorly, and overweight, when his doctor told him his kidneys were failing.
Patrick would begin peritoneal dialysis. Because of his size, he would have to do a high-dose therapy which entailed five exchanges each day that totaled ten and half hours a day, seven days a week for the four years he was on dialysis. “That’s a lot,” Patrick recalls, “I can’t get that time back.”
With improved lab reports, the dialysis center recommended Patrick for a transplant. He would eventually be added to the waiting list and received his transplant on April 1, 2017 at VCU Hume-Lee Transplant Center.
But this is when the “journey took off” for Patrick as his kidney did not function right away. “Sleepy” kidneys, or acute tubular necrosis (ATN), can happen and may take two to four weeks for kidneys to fully function. This meant Patrick had to go back on dialysis in the hospital. But Patrick would also have 3 more surgeries due to a blood clot and internal bleeding and spend a total of 33 days in the hospital.
“If it was not for my wife Tina, I would be dead right now,” says Patrick, because he wanted to go home and die instead of having the second surgery. Her encouragement sustained him through each setback. “I realize the greatest gift God has given me outside Jesus Christ is my wife,” he adds. Tina never left Patrick’s side while he was in the hospital and oversaw his care when he was finally able to return home.
Patrick’s pastor visited him while he was in the hospital and told him to trust the process. As he reflected on what that meant, Patrick realized he needed to forgive to be healed. He had pent-up hostility about what he had gone through. These were life lessons he needed to learn. Patrick believes, “There was something that I needed to do before I could literally get healed. I had to suffer.”
Two weeks later and 47 days after his transplant surgery, Patrick’s kidney finally “woke up” and began working, and a sense of normalcy finally returned to his life. He would no longer have to do dialysis. “What should have killed me, has educated me, given me life. I’m living my best, healthier life because of it,” he says.
Patrick began to take his health more seriously by eating a healthy diet and becoming more active. Always an activist, he now educates people about kidney health and patient care. His journey also led him to become an ordained minister preaching his first sermon in August 2017.
“I have a second chance at life and I am really appreciative of it,” shares Patrick. He has written a letter to his deceased donor’s family and he’s hoping to hear back from them. He wants them to know that because of their loved one’s gift his activism has increased.
Patrick competed in the 2018 Transplant Games of America and won a gold medal in a doubles bowling competition. He’s hoping to give it to his donor’s family someday.
Patrick encourages people to donate, “If you can help someone to continue to live, why not? God gave you a spare kidney. He knew we would need to give life to someone. You can take it with you, but why should you?”
Register now to become an organ, eye and tissue donor.
Living donation is an option for those waiting for a kidney. Learn how you can donate.
For his first Halloween, Robin Buritica Carvajal dressed up as a surgeon. His smile was beaming as he posed in his hospital scrubs for a photo. He was only 15 months old at the time and too young to realize his dream of becoming a doctor one day. Robin, who liked to be called Junior,…Read More