Common cold destroys kidneys

5:34 PM, Feb 9, 2012   |    comments
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DALTON, Ohio -- Katie Johnson is a beautiful, fit, college cross country runner at Wittenberg University. 

She's focused on not only her sport but also the graduation finish line. 

The vegetarian athlete had no reason to worry about her health, or so she thought.

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling.

"My kidney function wasn't what it should have been for a twenty year old," Katie says.

Her doctors gave her the go ahead to start running again but to watch for swollen ankles and fingers. Two races later, the symptoms appeared -- signs Katie's kidneys were worsening.

Doctors searched for an answer to the cause and ordered a kidney biopsy.  They discovered Katie's kidneys were damaged by something many of us battle every winter.

"My kidneys had been damaged pretty severely by a strep virus." Katie says. 

A bacterial infection Katie never knew she had.  She recalled seeing a doctor a few months earlier for a sore throat --- but a "rapid" strep test came back negative.

And here's the catch, those rapid tests are only 80 percent accurate. Katie's strep went undiagnosed and untreated.   She never received antibiotics and the bacteria travelled to her kidneys.  Something Cleveland Clinic transplant surgeon Venkatesh Krishnamurthi says it happens less than one percent of the time in his experience. 

Dr. Venkatesh says when it does happen, the effect can be devastating. 

"Everybody takes antibiotics all the time so it kills it pretty fast, but I didn't and so it caused what's called post streptococcal glomerulonephritis and my doctor told me that eventually I would have to have a kidney transplant," Katie says. 

Her family went into action, while she still had time. Her uncle Mark was among those who volunteered for testing.

"My brother would do the same for me if it was my children," says Mark Johnson.

But the family discovered time was running out. While waiting learn if Uncle Mark was a match -- Katie's kidneys were giving out. Her health was rapidly deteriorating.

"It was just a disaster because the kidneys had stopped working the toxins started building up in my blood that it was supposed to filter so I was physically sick also I couldn't breathe right cause the kidneys are supposed to filter waste and water out and they weren't doing that so it was building up inside my lungs so I was essentially drowning," Katie remembers.

Ironically, Mark drew Katie's name is the family's Christmas gift exchange. His gift to her -- a kidney shaped pillow.  A short time later, he gave her the real thing.

"She's got another 40 to 50 years of life because of one thing I did," Mark says.

"It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

Little about Katie reveals the ordeal she's endured until you see her war chest of daily medications.  Some of them, she'll take for the rest of her life.  To outsiders it may seem like a burden but to Katie it's nothing.

"It's amazing to be able to look ahead and plan something.  It's great, I can be 22 again."

To learn more about organ donation click HERE

To learn more about strep infections click HERE

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

A routine physical found Katie had high blood pressure. But why? More tests followed and the findings were troubling. "It's impossible to explain to someone what it's like knowing that someone has really sacrificed something for you," Katie adds.

 

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