I am getting a Kidney!

Life Begins

When you find out you are about to bring a child into the world you have a dream and vision for them.  When this little baby comes into the world, their future will be bright is the hope and dream  Once the baby’s birthday comes there is this anxiety, excitement and so much unknown.  

Two people ventured down this path. They were crazy about each other and despite being young and unprepared, they embraced the thought of this baby coming into the world whole heartedly.  Here there are, they have arrived.  As these new young parents hold their awake and very alert little daughter for the first time, the love they feel in that moment is indescribable.  They pray and believe in the bright future of this precious little child.  This......being their first daughter.

The fabrics of families are tested on a regular basis with general life events and stressors. Some of which can be so heavy that they rip these fabrics apart. The 1980's brought upon lots of laughter and also a lot of pain for the family.  More children were born, and one was lost.  Not just any loss but the kind of loss that breaks people.  Now, the first born is in the thick of it....... "The day my sister died is like a blur, I remember bits and pieces.  Nobody was really talking about what had happened.  I remember people being sad and angry and I was numb and confused. I had lost my best friend.” Vanessa was gone........

Fast forward to 30 years later (2012) and now you have a woman, looking back on her childhood.  So many things have changed.  The family dynamics are different now.  Mom and dad are on their own paths in life. It seems as if everyone is just trying to survive.  If you are wondering what happened?  SO do the rest of the family members.  Some days they individually think...."How did we get here?"  Many events took place, weddings, traveling, arguments, businesses were created, and many family dinners filled the walls of their homes. 

The Change

But in 2014, Ja’Nielle, the oldest daughter, granddaughter, niece, a beloved sister, a best friend and a trusted employee; this first-born daughter was about to face something that would change her life as she knew it.  The call came in from the physician about her test results.  The doctor said, "Get to the emergency room immediately!"  She heard the words but casually took them in.  She had been sick before as a child and young adult with RA, better known as rheumatoid arthritis.

Once she got to the hospital, the onsite physicians received the lab results and didn't believe the readings.  They took the test again, all the while sitting in disbelief on how this woman is still alive.  Once the results were confirmed, she was rushed into emergency surgery.  Her kidneys had failed.  At this point she is so sick from all the toxins in her body that she is unaware of her condition and what life changing events were yet to come.  This monster shift in her life seemed unfair and not the life she or her parents had imagined for her.  

Going Home In A Different Body

Coming out of emergency surgery was an intense shock to her system.  All these questions and feelings are happening.  As she woke up, her room at the hospital had a revolving door between family, friends and physicians.  What was the next step?  Where do you go from here?  How do you digest what just happened?  How do you ask for help?  How do you deal with the sadness and anger?  So many more questions were about to follow over the next few years.  People around you don't know how to react or respond.  They say thoughtless things and offer unwanted help at times.  To let people help you, you have to admit that you need help.  Who wants to admit that??  Your health is such a private matter but now you find yourself in a very public situation.  So many questions from people and yet you yourself have so many unanswered questions.  "I'm pissed!" 

Step Into Anger........

Imagine being on life support, learning how to take care of your body.  Going to a dialysis center day after day.  Having a schedule filled with doctors appointments, weekly injections, monthly blood draws, pharmacy runs and taking 12-15 pills a day.  Booking future surgery dates to try a different form of dialysis.  You want to go somewhere or do something?  Sorry not happening.....between everything going on Ja’Nielle hardly recognized herself.

She finally was able to get a machine at her house and do her own dialysis every night for 12-14 hours. She learned how to get her dialysis solution boxes/supplies, ordered and delivered to her house each month. This was a game changer but a very important job for her as well.  Via a port in her chest, she has learned how to disinfect and carefully connect and disconnect so that her machine can clean her body at night.  She now had a new full time job, one her life depended on.

Day In The Life

Moving through the day and night is very different when the kidneys do not function.  It's like trying to live life walking on a tight rope 1,000 feet in the air with sharp gusts of wind to battle and no balancing pole.  Everything needed to be cleared by her doctors first; what the heck do you eat, how much water can you drink?  Are her potassium levels to high?  If so will her heart explode?  Are her phosphorous levels too high? Are her organs and arteries calcifying? Is her blood pressure too high?  Too low?  Is she going to throw up again?  Once again....so many questions.

She was in a very difficult spot, even weak at many times.... but yet so strong.  The mental landscape was obvious.  She wasn't going to stop living.  She had committed to her care, even though at times she had felt betrayed by her family and even her own body.  Her feelings of loss run deep and strong.  Going back to losing her sister, losing her parents to divorce, getting sick and trying to be the glue that kept her siblings "together."  After all she was the oldest and in her mind that came with a lot of responsibility.

Now it's 2016, talks of a transplant are becoming more common.  The idea of going through a major surgery again was terrifying for Ja’Nielle.  As her father took her to surgeries and follow up appointments due to complications with her dialysis catheter; he had more opportunities to ask her doctor more questions.  He began taking an interest in being considered a donor.

Will Her Dad Be Her Donor?

Through these difficult years the family dynamics had improved but under the circumstances certain conversations still had to take place.  Her dad flip flopped on the idea.  He had his own concerns that seemed selfish but were valid for any potential donor to have.  But would he be a match?

Her father had always been athletic. Toned and fit for most of his life. He ran often and lifted weights in the 80’s and 90’s. In the late 2000’s he had gone on to be an IRONMAN Tri-Athlete and had accomplished many things.  He started a business and created a life for himself.  He did the best he could with his family.  He too had unresolved anger and sadness from the loss of his daughter at her very young age of 6.  As a parent he had a different experience from his children and ex-wife through the loss.  Fathers take on this role of protection and when that fails, in their eyes, the feeling is like a ravenous beast and at times destructive. 

In the latter part of 2016, he had decided that he was going to be Ja’Nielle’s donor.

The Process

It began......... but the conversation couldn't continue.  December 2016, the call came in from Carlos’ best friend Sandy. He had been in Palm Springs cheering on his group of friends who were doing a triathlon.  The race was over, dinner was had, laughs and dancing were shared.  Carlos went to the restroom and never returned.  He had a heart attack. 

The Call Came In

The first born child is facing yet another "moment in life."  Her first thought is to make sure he is still alive or on life support.  He is her donor after all.  A rush came over her, Am I going in fo
r my kidney surgery?  Is my dad going to be okay?  What is going on?  Where was he?  Was he alone.  Who is with him?  Where did it happen?  The anger......Carlos died.  Ja’Nielle not only lost her father that evening but her "life" all over again and it felt like the sky fell on her.  SHOCK.....CONFUSION...... DISBELIEF......SADNESS...... ANGER

The After Math

After the funeral, things get harder.  Decisions have to be made, his house has to get cleaned out, his personal effects need to be addressed, his phone is ringing and people are asking where he is.  His business is still active. An ex business partner is still stealing from the children and from the business.  What is going on?  What to do?  With some help things move
d along.

2017 is the year of struggle and strength.  The family is fighting, people think they are owed things and are entitled.  But who steps up to the plate, the oldest daughter of course.  She is the fibers to the fabric. 

There are more people expressing their condolences and offering up assistance.  More often than not people are also offering up their opinions.  The protective older sister thinks about so many outcomes and variables for the family and the business it is nearly impossible for the other family members to comprehend how far ahead she is thinking.  Back to the kidney disease.  She still needs a donor…. and after the funeral, more people become aware. 

2017 A Donor

As Ja’Nielle nears her 36th birthday, wondering how much longer she could sustain the level of output.  Another phone call came and this one is good news, There is a donor! 

And a scheduled surgery date of December 19th 2017.  Can you imagine getting a call and in less than 60 days that you could be going in for the surgery that can save your life?  As this day approaches two days before her 36th birthday, it's a time in her life that will resemble the day she was born…..a fresh start.

 The  Road Ahead

But, in order to go through with the surgery and properly recover. Ja’Nielle needs help. Post surgery, she will need to stay in La Jolla for at least three months renting a place.  She will also need a nurse to stay with her during her few weeks of recovery.  While also paying for her rent at her permanent residence and her regular life expenses.  Join us as we raise $20,000 needed to help Ja’Nielle get her life back.


So cheers to taking on the world Ja'Nielle, the brave older sister, the first born, you have proven you are a champion.  It's now time to take the help.  It's time to get your life back.

  • Sushi Igasaki 
    • $100 
    • 46 mos
  • Tabitha Foret 
    • $58 
    • 47 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 47 mos
  • Rochelle Miranda  
    • $50 
    • 47 mos
  • Candace Love 
    • $100 
    • 47 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Ja'Nielle April Alcantar 
Dana Point, CA
Brittney Heard 
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