Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated nationwide from September 15th through October 15th to recognize the contribution and influence of Hispanic Americans to history, culture and progress.
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It’s been six months since Amanda Cuellar ’11 (MSN), ’19 (MSN) donated a kidney to her longtime friend Joe Gonzales ’19 (MSN).
“I feel great!” says Gonzalez. “I thank God that the symptoms of daily fatigue, nausea and swelling have subsided and I am recovering well.” He has resumed most normal activities and lab results indicate that his kidneys are functioning normally It is working and shows no signs of rejection.
Cuellar is also doing well. “My recovery was unremarkable and went well,” she says. After being off work for a month, she returned to her job, and though it was slow at first, after a few weeks she “felt back to feeling normal.”
In mid-2020, Gonzalez thought he was in perfect health. Still, his work as a medical practitioner required an annual check-up. In his lab work, he noticed abnormal kidney function, but thought it was just a fluke.
It wasn’t. His biopsy revealed that he had focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). “I was a fairly new nurse practitioner,” he recalls. “I was just starting this career when the pandemic started and this was scary.”
Treatment was ineffective. He qualified for a transplant list when his kidney function dropped to 15% of his. A private person, Gonzalez was hesitant to reach out to his friends and family, but his doctor assured him that time was of the essence.
So, Gonzalez texted the family with the news and answered the phone with Cuellar. “I told him, ‘Brother, you’re a superstar. As soon as I hung up, she went to a kidney donor website, filled out her lengthy questionnaire, and asked if she was a fit.’ has started the process of verifying
In January 2022, word came that she had.
“Honestly, I feel like this was on our cards,” says Cuellar. “I was never nervous. I was just excited. And my kids and my parents were fine with it. It just should have been.”
By the time the surgery was done in March 2022, both wanted to go to the other side. Thankfully, Joe’s improvement was virtually immediate. “I literally felt like a different person the next day,” he recalls. “And now, every morning I wake up feeling better. It’s been so long since I’ve felt this miserable that it’s hard to believe I feel like I used to.”
The pair met while working at Pioneer Memorial Hospital in Brawley, California and hit it off instantly. In fact, he attended her 2011 graduation from her USD. After taking one look at her campus, he told her that one day he would walk across the stage himself.
Today they are both back to busy with work, home and school. to
When asked what message he would convey to the Hispanic community regarding health care, Gonzalez had a lot to say.
“I want to stress and stress the importance of everyone following up with their primary care provider every six months to a year or as recommended. Primarily Hispanic As a Hispanic person who works as a home nurse in the American community, I’ve noticed that a large portion of the Hispanic community only sees health care providers when they’re unwell,” he says.
Cuellar strongly agrees. “I want to urge all Latinos to make their health a priority. Our culture has a very strong work ethic and people never want to take time off because they don’t have work or time. But we need to invest in ourselves and make sure we are healthy in order to live life to the fullest. No. You are worth it!”
“It’s easy to think, ‘If you don’t feel sick, you’re healthy,'” adds Gonzalez. “This is not always the case. Screening, early detection and prevention are key to staying healthy and can prevent medical complications. I am proof that screening and early intervention can lead to better outcomes.” This is an example of what was done.”
For those who may be considering organ donation, Cuellar has words of encouragement. “If you are willing to give someone the gift of life, do it,” she says. “I think it has to be the right time, and you have to be emotionally ready to donate your organs to someone. If I could do it all over again, I’d be in a heartbeat.” .
Words cannot express Gonzales’ gratitude. “As an organ donor, I have absolutely no words to express my gratitude, love and gratitude to Amanda and those who have donated parts of themselves to help others have more lives,” he said. “It’s because of people like you that I can share my story, inspire others, and live a normal life.”
— Julien Snyder
#Lifethreatening #gifts #deepen #friendships