Waverle Monroe is a senior Journalism Media Communications student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She is outgoing and involved, but many people do not know she is an organ transplant recipient.
It was a normal day for then 16-year-old Waverle Monroe when she woke up one morning at cheer camp, but as she rose she noticed her legs and face were swollen. She still went out and participated in activities, but quickly found herself unable to carry on because her inflamed legs made it hurt to jump, squat and do other cheer moves.
The camp administrators assumed she was allergic to the grass, and thought the heat was making it worse. They sent her to her room with aspirin and had her prop up her legs to deal with the swelling. She was unable to cheer during the remainder of the camp.
Monroe called her mother and told her what was happening. Her mother thought she was being overly dramatic, as many teenage girls can be at times.
“When my mom came to pick me up, she looked at my legs and she immediately took me to Children’s Hospital,” Monroe said.
After waiting in the emergency room for a while, the doctor came in and asked Monroe a strange question.
“When the doctor came in he looked at me and asked ‘When is the last time you went to bathroom?’” Monroe said. “I was like, ‘I don’t know, maybe this morning, maybe not.’ I just couldn’t remember. Then he looked at me and said, ‘Well, we are going to run a few tests but I think your kidneys may be failing.’”
The doctor ran the tests, and it was confirmed that both of Monroe’s kidneys had failed.
“I don’t think that people really understand that when you need a kidney transplant, that is a fatal illness,” Monroe said. “Yes, I can go on dialysis, and yes I can live long, but dialysis deteriorates your bones and it makes you weak. It is a lose-lose situation because they don’t give weak people transplants.”
She waited seven months before receiving her life saving kidney transplant. Her surgery was successful, and it took her about three weeks to heal.
“Being an organ transplant recipient has changed my life because it just brought to my attention how
important my life is and how important taking care of myself is,” Monroe said. “A lot of self love came from this experience.”
She knows little about the person who saved her life. Monroe said the only things she knows about her donor is that she was 22 years old and she died in a car accident.
“I feel like I have an unspoken promise to the person who donated my kidney and their family,” Monroe said. “I want to almost let them know that their kidney isn’t going to waste. I will forever be in debt and grateful to them.”
Monroe will be the guest speaker at the National Organ Donor Awareness Competition run by UNO PRSSA on Thursday, April 7, 2016 at 1 p.m. in the Community Engagement Center room 201.
Monroe wants to open up and be talkative about her experience with organ donation. She wants to tell people her story, and allow them to ask questions so they can be informed about organ donation from a firsthand experience.
“People don’t realize how long the waitlist is compared to how short our donor list is,” Monroe said. “I want people to realize that after you die, your body can save up to eight lives and heal possibly more than that, so why let it go to waste?