Maurice Drake is a husband and father who understands the immeasurable impact that organ donation can make on a person’s quality of life. Drake—a Pasadena, Maryland resident—was diagnosed with diabetes in 2005. By 2014, Drake’s doctor began expressing concern about his kidney health.
“The doctor said I should pay attention to my kidneys a little bit more and suggested trying a vegetarian diet and limit what I was eating,” Drake said.
He was required to limit protein amounts that he consumed while increasing his vegetable intake.
“But by 2016, I really had actual trouble with the kidneys and went into kidney failure,” Drake said, adding that diabetes caused the health crisis. “I began dialysis in 2016 by doing hemodialysis with a temporary central venous catheter (CVC) placed in my upper chest. A few months later, I switched to peritoneal dialysis to be able to do dialysis at home. I continued with peritoneal dialysis until late 2019 after getting a second bad infection that led to me having my peritoneal catheter removed.”
Hemodialysis removes waste products from the blood by use of a machine when a person’s kidneys are not functioning normally. Peritoneal dialysis is typically an at home treatment for kidney failure that sends a cleansing liquid through the abdomen by a tube.
Drake prayed and stayed positive through treatment changes.
“My doctor suggested that I switch back to hemodialysis, but this time using a fistula (a surgically created access point) placed in the wrist area of my arm. The fistula couldn’t be used right away, so I had to get another CVC placed for dialysis at the center three days a week,” Drake said.
After a few weeks, Drake decided to try home hemodialysis to avoid the trips to a dialysis center. First, Drake was required to complete a training course to prepare for using the equipment at home. Although he was scheduled to begin home hemodialysis, the very next week he was called by MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s transplant team. March of 2020, Drake was informed that a kidney was available for him. He never had to do home hemodialysis after all. While preparing to leave home, he called his employer to provide notice that he would not be coming to work.
“I had to be ready by the morning. I was signed up with MedStar Georgetown,” Drake said.
Diabetes affected his pancreas and kidneys. Drake only knew the organ donor passed away. He remains unaware about the detailed circumstances that led up to his ability to have a double transplant.
“I had a pancreas transplant at the same time,” Drake said. “The pancreas transplant took care of the diabetes so I’m no longer diabetic.”
After Drake’s surgery was performed, time was also needed to drive back and forth to MedStar Georgetown for checkups and appointments. Today, Drake describes his health as “very good.” He has more freedom to enjoy experiences with his loved ones, including dips at the beach or in a pool if he chooses. These activities were once off limits.
“I don’t have to worry about diabetes now,” Drake stated.
Jacqrai Drake, Maurice’s wife, recalls the old routine of setting up a cycler machine for peritoneal dialysis for her husband’s home use.
“I would go to work and Maurice would sleep during dialysis. Then, he would then go to work. It’s what we did for years,” Jacqrai said. “Having two young kids and Maurice doing dialysis, and us trying to work, it was a lot emotionally and mentally.”
The CDC reported that 6.0 million adults who are aged 18 and over have been diagnosed with kidney disease. An additional report found that “during 2000–2019, the number of ESKD (end-stage kidney disease) cases reported in the United States increased 41.8%; the number of prevalent cases approximately doubled.”
The question can become how many living or deceased donors will donate kidneys to them.
Jacqrai is a registered donor who thinks being one is important. It resonated with her deeply as it impacted someone she knew. She added that her husband received his life changing call about his transplant one night before COVID hit in March of 2020. Only the people who were getting procedures could come inside of the hospital.
“Everything had to be virtual, and then I picked Maurice up that Saturday to bring him home after his successful surgery,” Jacqrai recalled.
Maurice’s experience reminds how families can be impacted by a generous stranger’s willingness to become an organ, eye or tissue donor. The Drake family’s gift was received as a family unit. They can continue life together.
“I’m grateful that we have more stability,”Jacqrai said. “I’m grateful for the time. We got more time!”
Please visit https://www.donatelifemaryland.org/how-to-register/ to learn about becoming an organ, eye and tissue donor.