(Article appeared in The People's Voice April 13, 2007)
Tucker says "Over the course of one day, my whole world was shattered and literally came tumbling down around me when I was told by my doctors that my kidneys had "gone to sleep" on me. Miraculously, the doctor was able to "wake them back up" and they flushed me out. But, the doctor says they are still deteriorating."
Reverend Tucker says, "By God's Grace, they are holding my Creatinine at 5.8. At the beginning of my crisis, it was 8, which was not good. The higher the number the worse it is. And mine was climbing. When the number starts coming back down, that is a sign of improvement."
Every two weeks, Tucker goes to East Alabama to receive an injection and to have his blood checked. Right now, it's at the level the doctor wants it. For now, his kidneys are holding.
Future Depends on A Kidney Donor
Both Reverend Tucker and his wife Mary have a very clear understanding of the situation. Once the diagnosis was confirmed, the Tuckers were faced with making life-changing decisions. The choices were clear: Either go on dialysis, or pursue kidney transplantation. According to Reverend Tucker, "Once we go on dialysis, that's it. You leave your doctor and you commit yourself to serving a life sentence on dialysis. You can forget the kidney. Because, if the doctors feel that you are doing well on dialysis they'll conclude that you don't need the kidney.
For Reverend Tucker, the choice was to pursue a transplant. So, he and Mary are praying for a donor. Even though they are praying and hoping for a donor, Tucker has had the tubing "Shunt" inserted in his arm, in case of an emergency, he can be placed on dialysis.
"If someone came forward TODAY, and volunteered to donate one of their kidneys, the surgery could be done immediately" said Mary Tucker. "The first step would involve the donor contacting the transplant coordinator, Ms. Michelle Davis, in Birmingham. After an interview process, Davis would then send the potential donor a kit with which to collect blood, and send back to Birmingham for screening. If compatible, then there would be further testing."
During the early stage of diagnosis, Tucker and his wife Mary traveled to Birmingham, to undergo several tests to learn about the process and procedures for finding a suitable kidney donation and making the transplant happen.
"Reverend" as Mary affectionatley calls her husband, has a large family, but a lot of them have health problems and can't donate. We want him to be around here for a long time, so, we are praying for somebody to look over into their heart, find the courage and the generosity to give up one of their kidneys; we know this is a tough decision for anybody to make."
A Supportive Wife and Family Have Eased the Stress Of Treatment
Bobby Tucker and Mary Tucker, in their home in Lanett, Alabama
Although it goes wtihout saying that having a supportive partner has helped Tucker to weather the storms associated with his disease, Mary Tucker says her part in this whole scenario has been very small. "I've had to learn how to care for my husband. I've had to sit in on classes, where they give him the options, showing him the different types of options. I had to learn how to help him do his daily needs. I sat with him through his evaluation for a Kidney transplant."
He has lost a lot of weight and he is fighting anemia... we have to take those ephregen therapy. It is given in the form of an injection. This is a very expensive medication, that runs $1,400.00 to 1,500.00 per injection. It is administered at the hospital. But through the process, we get to meet a lot of people and Reverend gets to do a lot of ministering in that environment.
His kidney disease often keeps him from eating. We have to encourage him to eat. My son, who lives in LaGrange will sometimes come here to eat with him. I've gained the weight, trying to encourage him to eat. And through this ordeal, I'm learning to eat better myself. Too much potassium can affect the kidneys. I have to help him do different reports, because we had to send reports to Birmingham. I am the driver. He has undergone several crises over the last few months. So, we've had to geet through the crises.
I am thankful that on this past week, we had a bible study, and we had a walk of faith afterward. On Friday, we had another bible study, and another walk of faith. I truly believe that Rev. healing is taking place through his acts of faith. There has been a lot of spiritual healing as well as medical healing taking place. When I stopped worrying about who wasn't doing, God showed me what he would do.
Reverend has a team of Doctors in Valley, Opelika, and Birmingham. They have all done an outstanding job in caring for him.
Many people are ashamed to say, "I need a kidney," But, because we want him to be around for a long time, we are asking because the word says "We have not because we ask not."
"I just want to thank all the people who are praying for my husband, and who have done so much to help me take care of him. Reverend has a 74-year-old mom. We know everyone can't give a kidney, but if they can give a prayer we'll be thankful for that.
We have a "Support Team" in our church. We have some young ladies on his support team. One of them does a special milk and honey bath for Reverend Tucker. And his skin had gotten kind of rough; but now, thanks to her milk and honey bath, his skin is changing; our daughter-in-law introduced him to cocoa butter lotion. Another young lady has learned to cook his diet. Another is a medical tech who makes sure his blood is drawn.
We meet a lot of people who don't know the lord, and they have a hard time undergoing this kind of thing. But I'm thankful that Reverend knows the Lord and he takes this a little bit better. Our Pastor, Reverend Arthur Thomas is so instrumental in guiding us spiritually. The whole church is full of good and loving people. They've been praying for us, and I can tell.
African Americans and Organ Donation
Mary Tucker would like for the black community to become more aware of the need to take better care of themselves. We want to emphasize also that African Americans need to have their kidney's evaluated. "African Americans need to take care of themselves. We need to know our Creatinine, our blood pressure, our cholesterol, and we need to know how to maintain a good blood pressure and everything like that." Tucker said, years ago, they had told him that this day might come. "There are so many things that can cause the kidney's to malfunction. They might be walkiing around and be so close to death."
We don't have enough black people educated about organ donation, and how we can help each other to overcome this silent killer. African American people need to be aware that there are so many people in need of organs. The liver and the kidney are the most prevalent organ that people need.
Tucker says "We feel like we need to take all our body parts away from here with us. When we die, we go back to the dust. So, why shouldn't we donate a kidney or liver to someone so we can give life to someone? Once we die, God isn't going say "Well he doesn't have a kidney a liver. God want's your soul ! He's not interested in those body parts! Today it's my day; tommorrw may be someone else's. Today could be their day. I didn't think that I was in that bad a shape. I was walking around thinking that I was alright. Over the course of one night, I thought my whole world came crumbling down. It doesn't take long.
It is really striking our people because we are so uneducated to this disease. Our people are the ones that are going under dialysis. When we go into dialysis, we are not seeing as many white people on dialysis.
A Living Testimony
Reverend Tucker is presently serving as Associate Minister at Mount Nebo Baptist Church in Cusseta, Alabama. Reverend Arthur Thomas is Pastor at Mount Nebo Baptist Church, which is located at 5231 County Road 389. (P.O. Box 33) Cusseta, Alabama 36852.
Tucker says "Right now I know, I'm living under Grace. I've done a lot of praying, every chance I get! You know, It's just wonderful! Here I am, they thought my kidneys were going to shut down. But, I'm staying close to the Lord, and I believe what He said, that if you seek Him first, all these other things will be added unto you. He said in all these things -- He didn't say some of them; He said, you can have ALL of His promises right down here on earth. You don't have to wait! I am a firm beliver that the Lord will bless His people even in their sickness. I am often reminded about how God asked Satan, "Have you tried my servant Job? He still has servants that Satan is trying --- WE have to be up to the test."
This Page Posted By Charlotte A. Clark-Frieson, Publisher, The People's Voice Weekly News, November 9, 2007
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