A Kidney For Lizzie; Community Rallies for Liz Rotfeld, Featured on the Talk Show, The Doctors

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Liz Rotfeld, a Port Chester, NY, resident who needs a donor for a kidney transplant, appeared on the syndicated CBS talk show The Doctors, on May 26th.

On Syndicated Talk Show, The Doctors; A Community Rallies to Helps Woman Who Needs a Kidney

An innovative program, known as a paired kidney exchange, sometimes called a “kidney swap”, can still result in a suitable donor even when the living kidney donor is incompatible with their chosen recipient. Visit the National Kidney Foundation for more information.

Liz Rotfeld, a resident of Port Chester who needs a kidney transplant, can be seen on the Emmy® award-winning talk show The Doctors, which aired May 26th on CBS. The primary reason that Liz agreed to appear on the show is because she wants to share the importance of the early detection of kidney disease with as many people as possible.

More than two decades ago, Lizzie was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, a chronic kidney disease caused by deposits of immunoglobulin A [IgA], a protein inside the filters of the kidney. It could be said that the findings were revealed many years after they “should have been.” As many women do, Liz had always put her own health on the back burner – her priorities were taking care of her family and devoting most of her time and energy to helping other people in her community.

Liz makes the crucial point that there is blood screening available that can detect specific proteins, such as IgA, that at certain levels cause kidney disease. Sadly, this test is not routinely performed when one undergoes common annual bloodwork. “If you have symptoms, such as frequent urinary tract infections or blood in urine, please request this test to be run on your bloodwork panel,” Liz implores.

The most common signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease include:

  • anemia
  • blood in urine
  • dark urine
  • decreased mental alertness
  • decreased urine output
  • edema – swollen feet, hands, and ankles
  • fatigue [tiredness]
  • hypertension [high blood pressure]

Liz also shared some nutritional guidelines regarding foods to be avoided by those prone to kidney disease, including animal protein, foods high in sodium, and foods high in potassium, such as bananas, avocados, potatoes, and tomato paste.

There are a number of reasons why Liz is still waiting for a donor, and it’s not for lack of willing friends and family. Liz explains, “You don’t just go on a list, your kidneys need to be at a certain function to be on the list.” The willingness of the potential donors is just one facet of what can be a very arduous process. Her brother was the first to step up, but because he had undergone a surgery of his own and subsequently had issues with one of his kidneys, he was unable to help Liz, despite his readiness to donate. Two cousins and a friend were tested but became ineligible to donate due to ensuing complications. While a donor need not be a match, it is very important that said donor be in excellent health to qualify.

Liz posted about her journey for a kidney transplant on Facebook and was moved by the results: a woman she knew back in high school sent her a private message offering help. On Labor Day Weekend 2020, the son of her ex-husband’s cousin [she had remained close to the extended family] contacted Liz to selflessly offer one of his kidneys. However, while he was undergoing the necessary testing to determine whether he could be a match, he fell ill with COVID and had to halt the testing process. Once the testing resumed in March 2021, having gone so far into the process, he was disqualified due to slightly elevated blood pressure.

The opportunity for Liz to get a kidney is not limited to finding a match. An innovative program, known as a paired kidney exchange, sometimes called a “kidney swap,” can still result in a suitable donor even when the living kidney donor is incompatible with their chosen recipient. If the willing donor matches another person on the waitlist, the person they are connected with moves right up the list. Two live donor transplants would then occur. The kidney exchange was instituted with the goal of increasing the donor pool by giving people who are unable to receive a kidney from a loved one or a friend a chance to still receive one through an exchange between other incompatible donor/recipient pairs.

Kidney Swaps are revolutionizing the organ donation system.

The link for the May 26th episode of The Doctors can be found here found here.

About Liz: Liz Rotfeld is a mom, a sister, and a dear lifelong friend to many. She volunteers in her community for multiple organizations. Prior to the pandemic, she ran a monthly soup kitchen at a local church in her community, and during the pandemic, she shopped for the elderly and accompanied them to their Covid vaccine appointments. Liz is working diligently to raise awareness of the importance of early detection of kidney disease while sharing knowledge of how to recognize common symptoms and encouraging people to request the appropriate blood tests if kidney disease is suspected. Connect with Lizzie and her group on Facebook.

About the KIDNEY SWAP Program:
Both candidates and donors are carefully evaluated and tested, both medically and psychologically, in order to ensure that the benefits for all involved outweigh the risks. It is important for both surgeries to be scheduled for the same time in case either donor were to change their mind at the time of surgery. Surgeries can take place at the same or different hospitals, though it is considered advantageous if the surgeries take place at the same hospital.

In the paired exchange, an incompatible donor/ recipient pair [such as a brother and sister that don't have compatible blood types] are matched with another incompatible donor/recipient pair, for a literal “kidney swap,” in which each donor gives a kidney to the other person's intended recipient.

About the NEAD™ Chain
A NEAD™ [Never Ending Altruistic Donor] chain starts with one non-directed [altruistic] potential donor. In this program, the non-directed donor gives to a person waiting for a transplant, and that recipient's willing – but incompatible – donor gives to another person waiting, and so on.

Each living donor in this system gives to a stranger, and the chain of donors is kept going as long as possible.
Donating a kidney in Liz’s name would move her up the list to receive a kidney.

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