Yasmeen Yahzdi, of St. Louis County, was tired all the time. When she got off of work, she'd sleep. She had a high pressure job as an industrial designer, working long hours on big projects. She thought her fatigue was simply a result of overwork.
But during a yearly well-woman exam, her doctor found an elevated level of protein in Yasmeen''s urine. Her kidneys were failing.
"I was totally in denial at first," she said. "I had never really felt anything go wrong."
In July 2003, Yasmeen began dialysis, undergoing a three-hour treatment three times a week. Dialysis is a lifesaving treatment for patients with kidney failure, but for many it can be physically taxing and uncomfortable.
Shortly after initiating dialysis treatments, she was referred to the kidney transplant center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and saw Washington University renal specialists, including nephrologist Matthew Koch, MD. She was put on the active list for a kidney transplant and waited for a donor organ.
The fall of 2004 was especially difficult. The fistula in Yasmeen''s arm for dialysis access wasn''t working and she had bleeding problems after each treatment. Physically, she was at a low point. Normally an upbeat, optimistic person, Yasmeen''s mood matched her physical state.
On a Friday in October 2004, Yasmeen went to the emergency room after dialysis to deal with bleeding from her fistula. "It was the worst time in my life," she said. "I felt that I couldn''t go on living this way."
Then, she got the call she had waited for. An appropriate deceased donor kidney was available. She would get her transplant at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
Since the transplant, Dr. Koch and the rest of the kidney transplant team have overseen Yasmeen''s care. A key part of that care includes regular follow-up with her transplant nurse coordinator, Darlene Felling, RN, who answers questions, keeps track of medication levels and will serve as a life-long resource for her patient.
Yasmeen, now 41, credits her faith, the support of her family and the care of the transplant team with restoring not only her health, but her zest for life. She enjoys gardening, volunteering at an art gallery and has returned to one of her favorite pursuits, oil painting.