Customer Service Team Leader Kristina Diaz, #741, Orlando, Florida, had two options to treat her stage 5 kidney failure: a transplant or eight to nine hours of daily dialysis.
At that stage — also known as end-stage renal failure — Kristina’s kidneys were functioning at only 15 percent capacity. The waitlist for a transplant was anywhere from eight to 10 years. Without dialysis, the process of filtering and purifying blood through the help of a machine, Kristina was told she may only survive a month. Maybe less.
With failing health and a young daughter to care for at home, Kristina had to take time off from work to undergo treatments. She began her mornings at 5 a.m. to travel to her neighborhood clinic to begin dialysis.
“It made me so weak. I had to be carried back to my car,” she said.
As she adjusted to her new way of life, she transferred to #331, Orlando, Florida, to be closer to home. There, she met Seafood Specialist Eric Chandler. Soon after, they started dating.
A few months later, Kristina was forced to stop dialysis because of an infection. As her health declined, her need for a transplant became more critical. Eric decided to get tested to see if he could be her donor. They were warned the chances were slim — donors often need to be blood relatives of the recipient. Still, Eric insisted.
He was a perfect match.
“We have to help each other out,” said Eric. “Life is hard enough. If you can make a sacrifice to save someone’s life, why wouldn’t you?”
Eric and Kristina underwent surgery for the transplant in late August.
“The kidney started working instantly,” said Kristina.
While they were out, they received help with living expenses from their fellow Publix associates and United Way.
Kristina is thankful for Eric, his kidney donation and the help she received from her Publix family. She’s also thankful for finding the will to persevere.
“I feel incredible. This journey reaffirmed my faith and reminded me not to take things for granted,” she said.