‘Lupus weakens my immune system and puts me at risk’
Curtisha Anderson has Lupus, an autoimmune disease where the body attacks its own tissues and organs causing extreme inflammation. It hit Curtisha’s kidneys the hardest. She learned she had End-Stage Kidney Disease when she was just 14 years old. She lives a life constantly being at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases due to her suppressed immune system. Here, Curtisha shares her story in her own words…
What was it like growing up with Lupus and Kidney Disease?
Not easy! However, my diagnosis was quick and I started emergency dialysis immediately. The dialysis filtered my blood and essentially took over my kidney function. After three years of dialysis treatments, I had regained enough kidney function to no longer need it. I was overjoyed!
Although I dealt with many health issues over the years, I was able to be off of dialysis for more than 22 years until my nephrologist said my kidney function was declining once again. I was devasted when I got the news, which meant back to dialysis. Being hooked up to a machine every day was not my idea of ‘living life,’ so I began the journey into receiving a kidney transplant.
When did you learn you had a donor match?
I got a phone call that forever changed my life on July 15, 2017, telling me I would receive a kidney from a deceased donor. My wait for a kidney was finally over and I owed my life to a total stranger. Words cannot adequately express my gratitude to my donor and donor family. I am so grateful for my gift of life. Organ donation is a tragically beautiful thing. I’m able to enjoy life because someone said ‘yes’ to organ donation. It’s an amazing act of love! Just as organ donation saves lives, immunization saves lives as well.
Why does immunization matter to you?
My suppressed immune system, due to Lupus, makes it difficult for me to fight off bugs like pneumonia. Basically, Lupus makes me more vulnerable to illnesses and serious complications. But, when people in the community follow the recommended guidelines and get immunized, it not only protects their health but also helps protect others, like me, who are in a more compromised situation. I want to be around for my son, Anthonio. Nothing matters to me more. I love the African Proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.” We’re all responsible for keeping the next generation safe and healthy. For me, immunizing means protecting our children, families and communities. We’re stronger together.