Catholic Herald Staff
Writer’s Note: After writing the initial article on Renee Full and her need for a kidney transplant, Catholic Herald reporter Jenny Snarski maintained email contact with the family for updates on Renee’s situation.
The Catholic Herald ran a feature article on Renee Full and her search for a kidney donor in the May 31, 2018, issue. The Full family, who are part-time members of St. Mary’s Parish in Minong, where they have a cabin, have supported and journeyed alongside Renee since she was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease at the age of 8.
At 16, Full received her first kidney transplant from her mother, who was a match. Given the average 10-year lifespan for a donated kidney, one year ago, Renee and her parents began the search for a second donor.
As of August, one had not been found, but the Fulls had received positive feedback from the Catholic Herald’s story.
By then, Renee had started daily peritoneal dialysis at home, which her mother said is easier on the body and allows for more flexibility with fewer interruptions in a normal life routine.
She added that Renee was “getting used to her new normal” and had noticed an increase in her energy level.
“Thanks for being with us – ‘together on the journey,’” she concluded.
In a December email, Kay shared the good news that an organ match had been found.
“All of the prayers have been answered!” she said.
After a friend of the family’s came forward as a donor for Renee, she began the testing process in the early fall. While the woman was able to donate, she wasn’t an exact match. Renee’s doctors at the Mayo Clinic decided to put them into a pair-donor program.
This meant that donors and recipients are, as Kay explained, “swapped to get a better match for the overall group and form a chain of transplants.”
The Fulls received word that a pairing was found, and Renee’s surgery was scheduled for Dec. 18.
“What a gift! I get emotional just thinking about the generosity of spirit from these donors,” Kay shared. She added a note of gratitude to the Catholic Herald and the several people who started the match-testing process after reading it.
Renee’s father Tim gave updates on the surgery through a Caring Bridge site that had been set up in 2009 for the first transplant.
Before Renee was out of surgery her father communicated that the surgeon had let them know that “all went well, the kidney kicked in right away.” By the next day she was up and walking, sore but feeling better and making progress.
Renee was able to make her own entry Dec. 22.
“Awesome news. Got out of the hospital today. Happy to be back at the house. Just a little sore … Thanks for all the prayers and thoughts and comments.”
In March 2019, Kay communicated that Renee was doing very well.
“It is such a miracle,” she said.
On May 16, Renee shared how well things were going and that all had looked well from the four-month follow-up biopsy. Since the transplant, she has been able to secure a fulltime job, something not physically possible for her beforehand.
“Overall, I have so much energy,” she said, adding that she had been able to gain weight and how glad she was to be done with dialysis.
“I feel like I have a new life, or as if I have a renewal on life,” Renee wrote. “I look back at what my life was like before, and I can’t imagine how I was able to function.”
The Fulls have had some contact with the donor and are grateful she is recovering well.
“My donor actually did this as a random act of kindness. She heard about someone giving their kidney to someone else and wanted to do this as well,” she noted.