Laurel Family Finally Finds 'A Kidney for Rachel'
High school is a time with few things to worry about, especially during senior year. However, that isn’t the case for Rachel Hangman. Not only does she have to worry about homework, friends, and dances, she has the added worry of her kidneys.
Hangman was diagnosed with vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) at six months old. At 11 months old she had an eight hour surgery to correct the VUR and other related complications. When she was in kindergarten the reflux returned and doctors discovered that her good kidney was having trouble, which meant another surgery followed by medications and weekly shots.
She was stable until May 2018 when she suddenly started losing weight, was always tired, had no appetite, and stopped growing. — All signs of kidney failure.
Last fall doctors told her it was time for dialysis. She had surgery for the dialysis tube in September, and started dialysis in October.
Dialysis is not an easy treatment. She and her family have to make sure that everything is clean: her machine and solutions. Hangman has to hook herself up to the machine every night at nine and be on the machine for nine hours each night. The machine does what her kidneys are supposed to do. If it doesn’t drain right or she wasn’t on it for nine hours, she would have to be late for school and on it longer. Even as difficult as dialysis is it was the option that allowed her the most time at home instead of at a hospital.
Even so, all of the procedures and check-ups means that Hangman has missed many school days to travel to Omaha twice a month for appointments.
Soon she will be receiving a kidney from a donor. She and her family are a part of the pair-a-donation.
Pair-a-donation works as a kidney swap between two families. While no one in Hangman’s family is a tissue match, they are a match for another patient needing a kidney. Hangman’s aunt was a match with a patient in a similar predicament, so each patient will receive a donation from the other family.
After receiving her new kidney, Hangman will no longer be on dialysis. Instead, she will be taking 10 pills daily for the rest of her life to prevent rejection of the kidneys.
“I can’t play sports anymore,” Hangman said. “Just in case it hits my stomach or something.”
She said not playing volleyball is the most disappointing aspect for her, but she has to make sure nothing happens to the dialysis tube that is wrapped around her stomach. Before going on dialysis, Hangman played volleyball for the Laurel-Concord-Coleridge Lady Bears. With her new kidneys, she will be able to play volleyball again but only after her senior year. Along with not playing sports, she can’t swim in rivers and lakes but she can in chlorinated water like swimming pools and baths.
“She does all this without complaint or making excuses,” Donna Hangman, her mother said. “She never gives up and tries to stay as focused as she can.”
She wants others to know it’s a hard fight, but she keeps going. Hangman should be receiving her transplant near the end of June.
In the beginning she will have her blood drawn two to three times a week to make sure the kidneys do reject, and she will be taking about 30 pills for the same purpose. Hangman will be home in isolation for a month to help her not get sick with her immune system being down.
“I’m just glad I’m almost to my goal,” Hangman said. “My goal is a transplant.”
Her next goals are to stay healthy and graduate high school.
Donna, set up “A Kidney for Rachel,” a Facebook page to keep family and friends updated on her daughter’s health.
“My friends and family are really supportive,” Hangman said. “It’s nice to have them.”
Hangman’s sister Emily said their aunt has made two quilts to raffle off for offsetting expenses the family has to endure. People can purchase one for five dollars or five for $20. On the Facebook page, Hangman will announce the winner of the raffle live on June 22.
The Hangmans encourage everyone to look into being organ donors. Those interested can find more information at secure.nebraskamed.com.