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By Ryan Bowman/The Hesperian-Beacon—
Floydada native and 1986 Floydada High School graduate Mary Ann Quilantan is praying for a Christmas miracle.
Mary Ann is the daughter of long time Floydada residents Reynoldo “Smokey” Quilantan and Mary Quilantan. The Quilantans raised their five children in the Lakeview community, and were well known and loved members of Floydada. Together with her family Mary Ann now lives in Lubbock.
Mary Ann’s journey begins in 1996 when she first began to struggle with her failing kidneys. Mary Ann received her diagnosis of End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) in her early 20s and having already been diagnosed with diabetes at a young age, was no stranger to accommodating the unique complications associated with less than perfect health. Unfortunately, two years of treatments proved unsuccessful. A complication of her diabetes, her condition continued to worsen, quickly leading to a kidney transplant in January of 1998.
As luck would have it, Mary Ann’s sister Janie was not only a perfect match, but eager to give Mary a second chance at a normal life. Mary and Janie went into surgery together on Jan. 14, 1998, and went home Jan. 19 with an even closer bond, and a story to last a lifetime. Janie was always aware her sister’s health would lead to her needing a kidney donor to save her life, and she noted in an earlier interview, “I’m glad it was me who got the chance.” In 2017, almost 20 years after the donation, Janie lost her battle with pancreatic cancer. Mary Ann maintained a strict medication schedule, and with the donated kidney was able to live dialysis free and enjoy some of the basic freedoms she had missed during the earlier years of her diagnosis.
Unfortunately, in 2009, 11 years after her initial transplant, Mary’s health was on the decline once again, and she had to undergo a second transplant. Mary’s younger brother J.R. Quilantan graciously donated one of his kidneys, in a second effort to ensure his sister’s quality of life.
Today, Mary Ann has found herself in an all too familiar chair once again. The chair where she sits for her dialysis treatments. “I am connected to the machine for 4 hours a day, every other day,” explained Mary Ann. “Today I’ll get my treatment, and tomorrow I’ll rest because it wears me out. And tomorrow I start all over.” According to mayoclinic.org, the preferred treatment for End Stage Renal Disease, and the most common is a kidney transplant. A transplant is a surgical procedure to place a healthy kidney, from a live or deceased donor into a person whose kidneys no longer function properly. The alternative is a lifetime on dialysis.
Mary Ann’s dialysis schedule is demanding, and the process is hard on her body, leaving her little time or energy, and also making her heavily reliant on others to help her with her care. “My independence,” said Mary Ann, when asked what she misses most. Mary Ann’s quality of life and basic personal freedoms take a back seat to her demanding health conditions. Mary Ann is currently on the waiting list for a kidney donor, and explains, “Waiting on a deceased donor can take 6 to 7 years.” Her hope this Christmas is to find a living donor, someone willing to give her not only a healthy kidney, but her life back.
“You can live a perfectly normal life with only one kidney,” said Mary Ann. The National Kidney Foundation reports most people with a single healthy kidney report little to no problems. Mary Ann is working closely with the team at the University Transplant Center in San Antonio to find a living donor. The university website, universitytransplantcenter.com offers a plethora of information, answers and testimonials from other living donors as well as general criteria to become a living donor. According to the university, anyone aged 21-70 years can qualify to donate. A full list of criteria as well as pre-screening questionnaires are available on the university website, and anyone curious about the process is strongly encouraged to look at the resources available to guide you in your decision.
Mary Ann is praying for a Christmas miracle, and once again asking for the gift of her health and independence. If you or someone you know has considered becoming a living donor, the Quilantan family is a testament to the positive impact that decision can have on a family.
For more information, or to discuss becoming a donor, you can contact Mary Ann’s living donor coordinator Jessica at 210-575-8771.