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Help Find Jamal a Kidney and fund his Foundation

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Jamal Shuriah is talented beyond measure but more important than his talent, is his zeal for life and desire to help others. This hasn't been an easy journey, to say the least, but it brought three strangers together for a common goal and now, that goal is crystal clear; to help find him a kidney donor and start the Shuriah Kidney Foundation which will support kidney research and assist others in the fight against rare kidney diseases like Jamals, FSGS.

Jamal Shuriah has always dreamed of dancing on Broadway. As a child, he grew up going to see shows in the city and would practice moves around the living room. He began performing at age 7 and is now considered one of the great dancers having had the fortune of being in many productions both on Broadway and in Regional Theater houses around the country. Jamal dances with a grace and fluidity that is unmatched and when he enters the room, you feel his presence instantly - his smile and light shine from within and have the power to change your mood within a matter of seconds.

I've often contemplated life and why bad things happen to good people - I've never come to the core answer but I hope that in creating this, we can bring some goodness not only to his own life but to the life of others who struggle like Jamal. Jamal has been plagued with FSGS a rare kidney disease called Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis - it's a fancy medical term that essentially means this disease causes scarring in the filters of the kidneys. FSGS can make it hard for your kidneys to filter waste, which can lead to kidney failure, also called end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or end-stage kidney disease which requires you to be placed on dialysis until a new kidney transplant takes place. In Jamal's case, he has been fortunate to have had two transplants thus far [I'll share that incredible story below] but his most recent transplant which left him succeeding for the past year and a half; has sadly changed. This month, Jamal was given the tragic news that his new kidney is suffering from acute cellular rejection and antibody-medicated rejection. Doctors at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital tried to save the new kidney by adjusting his immunosuppressants, which help fight off his body from attacking the foreign object [kidney] but it was too late. Now he's back on dialysis three times a week and waiting for a new kidney. Despite this heartbreaking setback, all he's thought of is how he can help others during this difficult time. Funds that are received through this GoFundMe will help offset some of his medical bills and the inability to perform, but the rest, will fund kidney research and help start his Foundation which he hopes to help others in the future. The Shuriah Kidney Foundation will become a non-profit to fund research for hospitals and provide adequate knowledge for patients looking to obtain access to information on kidney health as well as the goal of creating an easy-to-use global app to link living donors to patients in need.

Now to recount his remarkable personal story from December 2020...

"Four years ago I started a Pre-Broadway show or at least that was the trajectory of the shows Fortuitous future. Midway through I noticed changes within my body. At the end the changes were not just internal but now external and affecting my appearance...... Fast forward to June 2, 2017. I had my first biopsy to then discover I somehow acquired a rare Chronic Disease called “FSGS,” (Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis) scar tissue develops on the parts of the kidneys that filter waste from the blood.

Fast forward to two years after I completed a contract, to my body, in a lack of better words shutting down on me. My kidneys were dying and I needed a bit of help. I went into surgery and had a catheter for “Peritoneal dialysis” (a way to remove waste products from your blood when your kidneys can't adequately do the job any longer, i.e. when you pee) inserted into my lower abdomen. Before it started working my weight dropped 60 Ibs and at that point I lost a good amount of body muscle and fat.

Waiting for a donor has been a tricky one, with false promises and high hopes. My good friend and tour body and Cello Extraordinare Sam Quiggins soon stepped up to the plate! He offered to give me one of his kidneys!

Tomorrow December 16, 2020 @ 5:00 a.m. in the morning I’ll make my way to Columbia Presbyterian. I pray all goes well and I have faith in the lord that it will. Life is tricky with unexpected circumstances at every turn. Stay alert and listen to your body, sometimes it’s trying to clue you in on a bigger picture."
Jamal recounts what life has been like living with Peritoneal Dialysis:
“When I started dialysis I had to pump my stomach with 2000 ML of dextrose solution twice a day. It is what filtrates toxins as your kidneys regular function would be as you urinate. As I continued to get worse the amount I had to fill my stomach with went up to 3000ML. I would hold one overnight for 8 hours, then switch to the next bag at 4 Am. The bags during the day had to stay in me for 3 hours at a time. It was a total of 4 bags a day in the end. I tried to do these all in the morning so I could live out some kind of dance and career normalcy. I would finish around 1pm. If I had to do something earlier I’d have to delay treatment, go about my business then rush back home to make sure I carried out the rest of the required treatments for the day. It became routine and I did this for two years relentlessly. Today I can say I will not miss dialysis one bit but am grateful it is what kept me alive while my kidneys completely shut down.”
The Second Transplant
After his surgery on December 16th, 2020 doctors and nurses felt that everything was stable and that the new kidney was strong. Unfortunately, only days later Jamal would feel complications from C-DIFF [an infection in his stomach contracted due to the surgery] and understand that the kidney did not take.
“So things didn’t go well and I am leaving the hospital at some point...I really don’t know with no kidney. This is what happened, I felt fine and then on Sunday my stomach started killing me and hardened and I apparently got a gastrointestinal infection through the surgery not only did I get that but the kidney itself committed suicide and clotted itself and now three surgeries later I am left with no kidney.
I don’t think I have ever been in this much pain in my life, but 10 days later I’m feeling better. My stomach doesn’t hurt as much but my body has retained water retention so I can’t even get out of bed because I’m so heavy.
I am now doing a new form of dialysis and I think that it will help with the water retention. I am now in search of another B+ kidney and praying the surgery goes much better and happens a lot sooner as I’ve been waiting for four years."

While recovering in the hospital from his first transplant, Kim [his donor whom he had never met] overheard his name in the recovery room. All that separated them was a sheet and she made a mental note - a week later she googled his name to find out more about the man she had selflessly donated her kidney to. She found his site and was devastated to learn that the kidney she donated failed. She reached out and discovered Rebecca; Jamal's friend from college who created the site only days after the kidney had failed. They both began speaking regularly, after several months Kim met Jamal and vowed to help Rebecca find him a new kidney.

Visiting in the hospital

Friendship found in the most unexpected way...

Life with one bean!

Jumping for Joy in UT at the Salt Flats with donor Kim C.

In January 2021, after healing for several months from the first failed transplant and the launch of the site - Jamal received an email out of the blue from a woman in Arizona. Laura read his story online and it resonated - she reached out and again, received Rebecca in response. After several weeks of discussions, Laura went through the process of qualifying to donate to Jamal. After flying out to NYC and giving blood and tissue samples at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, doctors soon discovered she was an EXACT tissue match to Jamal and the kidney size was the perfect fit for him.

In September 2021 they met for the first time and she selflessly donated her kidney to him. Everything was perfect. The kidney took, and he recounted what it was like to be able to urinate on his own for the first time in years. Weeks turned into months, then months into years. Jamal found himself back on Broadway, in Regional theater houses around the country. He was back to dancing and performing doing what he loves most. In April 2022 only a short seven months after the transplant Kim, Laura and Rebecca flew out to Salt Lake City to see him in a production of Passing Strange with the Salt Lake City Acting Group. Something these women vowed to happen once he felt better and was performing again. Three perfect strangers turned into a friendship of four, forever linked to this incredible soul.

Heroes don't have to wear capes...

Friends for life.

Three strangers turned friends at the Passing Strange premiere Salt Lake City UT April 2022.

Jamal feeling great, out with his Aunt!

Unfortunately, the story took an unhappy turn most recently and Jamal now suffers from acute cellular rejection and antibody-medicated rejection. Half of his kidney works while the other half is failing. He needs dialysis now to keep it going and doctors aren't sure the kidney will continue working. His doctors attempted to adjust his immunosuppressants, but it doesn't look good. They have now put him back on the transplant list and he awaits a new kidney. This time, we firmly believe the third time will be the charm. Since these kidneys failed in very different and very unique circumstances, his doctors believe that with the right kidney; he will make the same recovery as he did before with a much better outcome. For more information on how you can help, please visit and on social media @findjamalakidney
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Organisateur et bénéficiaire

Rebecca Castonguay
West Springfield, MA
Jamal Shuriah

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