Jammie became ill in December 2011.
“I couldn’t stop vomiting, and was retaining water and swelling,” she said. “I thought I had a really bad kidney infection.”
Instead, tests revealed that her kidneys were failing.
In January of 2012 a Peritoneal catheter was inserted into her stomach so that she could do home dialysis, a process that took from 8 to 9 hours per day, every day, and caused her to be sick a lot.
This was just the beginning of a series of illnesses that plagued Jammie during the next two years.
She was on home dialysis for two years.
She underwent gallbladder surgery during this time.
Then early in 2013 she suffered a mini-stroke due to diabetes, with which she had been diagnosed when she was just a teenager, some 21 years earlier.
A few months later, while being tested for the kidney transplant, it was discovered that she had blockage in her heart, and she underwent Triple-Bypass Surgery.
After her recovery, the transplant surgery was scheduled. Her sister Kristy was a perfect match and volunteered to give Jammie one of her kidneys.
But before the surgery could be done, Jammie developed a problem with blood clots in her hands which almost caused the loss of one hand. It was discovered that a blood clot disorder runs in her family.
Dr. Stephen Potter, who was to perform the kidney transplant, held the scheduled date open, and on Nov. 27, 2013, the day before Thanksgiving, the transplant was performed.
All didn’t run as smoothly as hoped for Kristy either. One week before the scheduled surgery she developed an abscessed tooth which required a 4-day recovery period.
In addition, she learned that she was going to have to move right away, and knowing that she would not be able to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk after the surgery, knew she would have to get as much done prior to the surgery as she could.
On the day of the surgery Kristy went in at 7 a.m., then Jammie went in at 1 p.m. Kristy’s left kidney was attached to Jammie’s right kidney, and everything went well. The transplanted kidney started working right away. (Jammie stresses that they are very thankful, because this is not always the case.)
The Living Donor Assistance Program paid hotel expenses for Kristy for five days, since she was required to be near her doctor during the recovery period.
Recovery has been trying, but both are now much improved. Jammie spent several days in the hospital being treated for Peritonitis, a bacterial infection caused by the dialysis.
Kristy says her 6-year-old daughter has been very patient. She loves to be read to, and since she has to sit on one side of her mother’s lap and the other side of her Aunt Jammie’s, she always remembers to ask which side.
Jammie still visits her kidney doctor once a month. And she spends 1-1/2 hours a day at the hospital Monday through Friday.
She will be required to take anti-rejection medication the rest of her life (or for the life of the kidney).
Most of the nurses know me when I walk in the hospital, Jammie said.
“I’ve probably been hospitalized at least once a month for the last six years, usually for at least a week.”
The sisters grew up in the Union Ridge area and have one younger sister. Their mother, Teresa Attaway, lives at Midway and their father, Phillip Attaway, in Glenwood Acres.
Because of the dialysis Jammie had to quit her job. She says her former employer allowed her to take a leave of absence for a year, but after that an employee must either come back to work or quit.
A fund for Jammie has been set up to help with expenses. Anyone wishing to help may donate to the Jammie Porter Kidney Fund at Gilmer National Bank.