Life is getting better for 49-year-old Demetrius Gibbs but challenges still remain.
When readers last read about Demetrius, he suffered from kidney disease and was attending dialysis treatments three times a week for four hours each session because no viable donor had been found for the new kidney he needed.
Secondary illnesses and being forced to live on disability (without full medical and food assistance protections because of his age and disability income) at his mother’s house have further limited Mr. Gibb’s ability to live a full life.
Things took a positive turn for Demetrius on December 18, 2019, when word reached him that a kidney donor had been found from a recently deceased individual. Within seven hours, Gibbs was being prepped for kidney transplant surgery.
Mr. Gibbs is ecstatic about this turn of events and is looking forward to living a full life again with a career and leisure relatively free of concern.
However, challenges do remain as he transitions in the next year from disability back to the workforce.
Speaking on the phone, Mr. Gibbs recounted what has happened, what he still has to endure, and his optimism for the future.
The questions and his responses are below.
- Please remind the readers what your condition was like before receiving the new kidney?
“ I went through dialysis for four hours on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. There was also the hospital stays from being sick and other side effects. I never knew what was coming up next. Large bumps on arms that are now getting softer. Two feet of intestines had to be removed. It was not a good time.”
- Please tell the reader how you were able to get a new kidney (what was involved and what were the costs.
“I got a kidney on December 18, 2019, within seven hours from getting The new kidney has from a donor who had hepatitis c and I have to take medications for the next three months. I stayed in the hospital for two days and then released to go home. I went to the doctor every other day for two weeks where they gave medication to take every day. They also took blood to check how I was doing. I was given five mg of Prograf-immune depressant. The other recipient (who received the donor’s other kidney) got the same treatment. Things like coronavirus are a risk. I visited the doctors twice a week. Now, it is every other week now. Later, it will be once a month, then once a quarter, then once a year (probably two years.) The bill right now is 20,000 and I have paid 1000 so far and the bill is going. Medicare is not covering. The Kidney Foundation has been helping. They failed to tell me the medication was 15,000 a month to combat hepatitis. Fortunately, it is free with the aid/situation I have. Not everyone gets this help. I would still take the kidney because dialysis is a monster. I have to wait a year before going back to work. I still live with my Mom. I do not want to go back to corporate America when I go back to work. The treatment at the Mayo Clinic was great. I would not go anywhere else.”
- Please tell the reader how your recovery has been proceeding. What treatments have you been receiving? How much do you have to visit the doctor? What meds or special diet are you taking?
“8 am, 12 pm, and 8pm cell phone alarm set for meds. No special diet other than drink 96 ounces of water. Have to do a biopsy in two weeks on the kidney and ultrasound. I am urinating like a horse.”
- Please tell us about your daily life outside of the kidney treatment and what is the prognosis for the future.
“I lost 35 pounds in a month. I am doing nothing different than before coronavirus (hand sanitizer already had a supply at home) it was the way I have to live for the rest of your life because of the immune system suppressed.”
- Is there anything not covered in the first five questions that you would like the reader to know.
“I just don’t want anything. For me not able to get food stamps or housing assistance because I make too much is wrong and no prescription drug because on Medicare because I get 1600 on disability. Thankful for mom and kidney but now I’m dying of boredom. I feel the energy and the best since before the kidney issues and want to do more than the body Is ready for. I believe there is a God out there because my prayers for a kidney by Christmas came true. I want to get into social advocacy and HIPPA consulting especially for people who are not proactive in getting a new kidney. My whole attitude has changed and you are looking forward to what tomorrow brings. I can’t put into words how good I feel.”
What happened to Demetrius Gibbs reveals both the greatness and pitfalls of the American Health Care System.
The greatness is shown in the ability of Mr. Gibbs to get excellent treatment for his illness.
The pitfalls include his having to incur thousands of dollars in medical bills because he fell through the cracks in the health care system.
As mentioned in the article that first described Mr. Gibbs and his medical plight,
“He (Gibbs) and others like him probably do not care if Universal Health Care is achieved either by Medicare for All or plugging all the holes in the existing system. They just want a system where they could access high quality and affordable health care, not go bankrupt in the process, and have “peace of mind” where they can get off the never stopping “hamster wheel” of despair and lead normal hardworking and enjoyable lives with their friends and family.”
“That should not be too much to expect in the United States of America.”
That situation was true when we first met Demetrius Gibbs and unfortunately, nothing has changed over the last year.
It has to for the sake of those in dire and recovering conditions like Mr. Gibbs and others like him.