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Margaret Rampey Goodson (center) is shown with her parents, John and Anne Rampey.

Answered prayer
Father’s kidney donation allows his daughter to live a normal life

Anne Rampey says Nov. 26, 2014, was the most exciting, horrifying, exhilarating, terrifying day of her life.
That was the day her husband, John, donated a kidney to their daughter, Margaret Rampey Goodson, at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
"You are pulled in so many directions," Anne said. "Do you go to your husband or do you go to your child?"
Anne said she prayed all day.
"Lord, I humbly come before you asking for a miracle."
"And that is what it was," she said.
Margaret, now 37, has had allergies all of her life and has been diagnosed with Ehlers danlos Syndrome - a connective tissue disorder. Not long after she and her husband, Clint, were married in 2004 she went to the hospital because she was having trouble breathing. Tests showed she had an elevated creatinine level, which signifies impaired kidney function or kidney disease.
"I had no idea," Margaret said. "With kidney disease you have no pain until it's too late."
Margaret was diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) a cause of nephrotic syndrome in children and adolescents, as well as an important cause of kidney failure in adults. Doctors said Margaret's FSGS is a result of IgA Nephropathy - a kidney disorder that occurs when protein settles in the kidney.
Doctors associate IgA Nephropathy with allergies, the Rampeys said.
Margaret began undergoing dialysis three times a week on Nov. 30, 2012. The first year she had to travel to Spartanburg - there is a waiting list at the Union clinic.
"It was an all day affair," John said.
"It was exhausting for her," Anne said. "She is so stubbornly independent she wanted to drive herself as much as she could, but that added to the fatigue. She did let us carry her some."
The Rampeys said they could not praise the staff of the Union dialysis clinic enough for their kindness and compassion.
At first Margaret did not want to pursue a transplant, but dialysis began to wear on her.
"It got harder and harder and was taking more and more time," she said. "To be 37 and watching everybody you grew up with having kids, jobs and careers, and here I was sitting there stuck on that machine."
On dialysis days, Margaret came off the machine exhausted and wanted to go home and go to bed. The days she was not on dialysis she slept to try and recoup some energy.
"It was a vicious cycle," Anne said.
 When Margaret decided to pursue a transplant, four people stepped up to be tested - her parents; her godmother, Felicia Bennett; and her aunt, Jane Petty. The testing process began in September but was temporarily delayed when the family traveled to the Republic of Georgia for son John Walker Rampey's marriage to his bride, Nina.
Margaret also has had some family members who have been diagnosed with kidney disease. Because of this family history, John Walker, was not a candidate to be a donor.
"He said, 'Mama, I'll just give her one of mine,' Anne said.  "But with the family possibility there is something coming down the road we did not want him to be the one."
Felicia and Anne were disqualified because of pre-existing medical issues.
"They wanted to pursue John first - the closer the blood relative the more likely there would be a match," Anne said.
"There is no telling how many tests I went through," John said. "Blood tests, nuclear tests, stress tests, psychological tests. But the people there are wonderful. They treat you like family."
John, 65, was cleared to be a donor before Margaret was cleared to become a recipient. Margaret found out on Nov. 14 - the day before her birthday - that she had been cleared. She called her parents and Jane and asked them to come to her home so she could tell them personally.
Doctors had predicted Margaret's recovery would be quicker than her father's. It did not happen that way. Surgeries went well and John's kidney immediately began working in Margaret's body. But on Friday, Nov. 28, Margaret woke up with a 102 fever, was having trouble breathing and could not urinate. John was scheduled to be discharged. He told the doctor he did not want to leave Margaret. The doctor told him it was best to leave the hospital before he picked up an infection himself.
 "They were discharging John at the same time they were putting Margaret on the elevator to go to ICU," Anne said.
Anne called the transplant coordinator who arranged for John and Anne to check in to a motel located five minutes away from the hospital that caters to transplant patients. They remained there until Tuesday when Margaret was released to the "transplant motel," where Clint could stay with her.
A team of doctors studied Margaret's case and initially thought about more surgery to determine what was wrong. The chief surgeon said no - the best course was to put her in ICU and give her antibiotics. That course of action worked well.
The next Saturday Anne was returning to Charleston to stay with Margaret at the motel so Clint could go back to work. Clint called to say Margaret was being re-admitted to the hospital. She had developed pneumonia.
"In 20 minutes my fever went from 98.9 to 103 - Clint was checking it every five minutes," Margaret said.
After this hurdle was cleared Margaret was allowed to come home. Over the next four months Margaret must be regimented about her diet and medication. She and John go to Lab Corps in  Spartanburg once a week for blood work and go every two weeks to Charleston.
Anne thanked their family for being with them through the ordeal.
"I had family there and thank heavens for them," she said. "They were wonderful. They dropped everything and came down there and did everything we asked them to. We are so fortunate to have had that support. And the family that was here took care of our animals and Margaret's animals and the things that needed to be done at home because we ended up staying longer than we had planned."
The Rampeys thanked the folks of Union County for the cards and well wishes they received.
"We got cards from people we didn't even know," John said. "We received cards from Sunday School classes - we know the church but we didn't know the people."
"They were praying for us and thinking about us and we couldn't have gotten through it without that support," Anne said. "It was one of the fastest, craziest roller-coaster rides we have ever been on. It was rough."
Both Margaret and John said their lives have been changed by the transplant - hers for obvious reasons. John said the experience deepened his faith in God and he feels he has more patience. Margaret jokingly says she feels she has less patience since she received John's kidney.
"All the energy in her personality has come back," Anne said.
Now that she is free from dialysis, Margaret said she hopes to travel, including going back to London with Clint and to Georgia with her family to spend time with Nina's family.
Anne and John encourage others to explore the possibility of becoming a live kidney donor.
"I feel we have a mission to tell everybody about live donors," Anne said. "If you agree to be a live donor it does not cost you one cent. You will have to go through tests. You will have to take some time off work - two to eight weeks. If at some point John develops some type of kidney issues and has to go on dialysis - because he is a live donor he will go on top of the list."
John said the waiting rooms at the transplant center are full of people needing an organ donation.
"They are just hoping something will happen for them," John said. "We were very fortunate."

(Posted January 26, 2015)

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