Haverhill Woman Asks Public’s Help to Receive Lifesaving Treatment After Kidney Transplant Fails

Sharon Riel of Haverhill.

Sharon Riel of Haverhill requires lifesaving help and is holding out hope someone may step forward.

Riel needs a kidney transplant—for a second time. Fifteen years ago, she learned she suffered from a progressive kidney disease called Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, or FSGS for short. When she was diagnosed, she was already at stage four. Before long, she faced End Stage Renal Disease and was placed on dialysis for more than six years while she waited for a donor.

“I got the call at 4:30 a.m. on March 1, 2018 offering me a kidney at Mass. General Hospital in Boston. I jumped at the offer. That day at around 3 p.m., I was transplanted. The kidney didn’t start working correctly and was still ‘sleepy,’ what doctors call it,” she says.

In time, Riel was hospitalized again and learned the transplanted kidney also suffered from FSGS.

“While in the hospital I got a new kidney doctor who informed me that when I was transplanted, the kidney I got was only functioning at 35%, but you never know the function of a deceased donor until it is transplanted,” she says.

Riel, 42, is back on dialysis and back living with her mom, Debra, and stepdad Bill Bowman, in Haverhill. There is another option—a living kidney donor—available through a program at Massachusetts General Hospital. She explains those interested in, or curious about, how they can help may complete an online questionnaire at mghlivingdonors.org.

The hospital calls donating a kidney “an act of great kindness.” According to its website, “Nearly half of the kidneys transplanted at Mass General are given by living donors—family members, friends, co-workers and donors who are unknown to the recipient.”

Riel is happy to answer questions and may be reached personally at 978-971-8152.

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