TONASKET — On Dec. 15, Usofono “Fono” Muasau went to a scheduled dialysis appointment, when he received a call about a kidney donated in Seattle that was a match.
A kidney was donated to Virginia Mason Seattle, and was ready for Usofono Muasau the night of December 15, if he could get to Seattle within six hours.
Fono’s mother-in-law, Jeanie Barnett of Tonasket, shared this miraculous story of her son-in-law receiving a much-needed kidney transplant, and how complete strangers went above and beyond to make sure Fono received his kidney surgery, caring for him after surgery, and for all the prayers for a smooth recovery.
“It was amazing, seeing what people were willing to do for someone they didn’t even know,” said Jeanie. “Our prayers were answered, not only when Fono received word of an available kidney in Seattle, but when transportation needs were met in order to get Fono to the hospital for surgery. Fono’s caregiver needs were met as well, when David Hall (and son), the Pacific Northwest Transplant Recipient International Organization (TRIO) chapter president stepped in to be Fono’s caregiver throughout his kidney transplant journey.”
Donna Newell, owner of Shady Creek Gardens and Ponds in Omak, shared the need for Fono to get to Seattle. Karen Kane, a customer who was at the store, said she would drive Fono to Seattle.
“I heard that someone needed a kidney and they needed a ride to Seattle by 5:30p.m.,” said Donna Newell. “I shared the information on the Shady Creek Gardens and Ponds Facebook page and Karen responded. Karen dropped everything at the drop of hat and said she would take him. Several of my customers came up to the counter and gave Karen $20 bills to help pay for the gas money for the trip. It was an amazing act of grace to witness this Christmas miracle.”
“The roads were clear, and they arrived safely and on time,” said Kara Barnett Muasau, Fono’s wife. “God was obviously looking out for Fono that day.”
A random urine test in 2010, showed that Fono had Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a kidney disease which leads to scarring of the kidney tissue. Symptoms of FSGS are swelling in the legs, ankles, and area surrounding the eye, weight gain from fluids building up in the body, foamy urine caused by high levels of protein in the urine, high cholesterol, and low levels of protein in the blood. FSGS is a chronic disease, in which the scarred kidney tissue cannot be repaired. Some patients with this disease, get worse over time, until they end up with kidney failure, leading to dialysis and a kidney transplant.
Some treatments for FSGS include steroids, immunosuppressive drugs, diuretics, diet changes, ACE inhibitors and ARBs or plasmapheresis. This procedure is similar to dialysis; however, dialysis removes antibodies from the plasma portion of the blood.
His kidneys were functioning at 20 percent, and in 2016, both kidneys were only functioning at three percent. Fono was put on dialysis, and eventually put on a donor list. Fono was removed from the donor list for a year and was then put back on the list.
“In either July or August, Fono was put on the active donor list,” said Muasau. “I reached out by e-mail to support groups and caregivers for help with Fono. I got in contact with David Hall. David was trying to help find caregivers, since Fono would need 24/7 care. David Hall and his son have committed their time and personal resources to see him through his whole stay! They are helping us voluntarily. It’s a total ’God-thing’ because all of us had never met prior to Fono’s surgery date. Because of David’s great generosity, and willingness to be there-Fono can focus on recovery. David is a kidney transplant recipient himself, so he knows what Fono is going through.”
“A nurse from Confluence Health in Omak and friend, Kira Super, was a kidney match for Fono and offered to donate her kidney,” said Muasau. “The doctors said that Kira’s kidney would not sustain a man of Fono’s size (as he is Samoan).”
“After the surgery, Fono was doing extremely well, according to his doctors,” said Muasau. “He was moving around with the help of a physical therapist and eating solid foods.”
According to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) data as of November 2018, there are 114,245 people on the national organ transplant waiting list, and 2,332 people on the regional organ transplant waiting list. There is a shortage in available organs, and the waiting list for people needing organ transplants continues to grow. To make more organs available, people may want to consider becoming a living donor.
A living donor can donate a kidney, part of a liver, part of a lung, part of an intestine, blood, and bone marrow. The average donor can contribute up to 50 times.
“There are eight vital organs, including the heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver, and intestines,” said Hall. “The cornea, skin, heart valves, bone, blood vessels, and connective tissue can also be donated.”
“We’re humbled by David’s act of sacrifice and strongly urge you to help us support and bless his organization, the Pacific Northwest Chapter of TRIO,” said Kara Barnett Muasau. “There are three ways you can support TRIO. You can support TRIO by clicking the “yellow” donate button at http://trioseattle.org/donations/ or go to iGive.com or https://facebook.com/iGive/, which states that they “turn everyday purchases into donations for your favorite cause, all for free.” You can also go to smile.amazon.com, where Amazon donates 0.5 percent of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases, to the Northwest Chapter of TRIO.”
The Pacific Northwest Chapter of TRIO provides education about organ and tissue donations, the process, concerns and issues about transplants, medications, and finances. TRIO advocates to federal, state, and local governing bodies the needs and concerns that affect the welfare of transplant candidates, recipients, donors, and their families.
More information on organ donation and becoming a living donor is at www.trioweb.org/.