Maureen Moore is radiating positivity, energy and optimism. And she didn’t lose those characteristics even during her own battle with an aggressive kidney disease. Today, Moore uses the experiences she made as a patient to help others as a dialysis nurse and clinical manager at Fresenius Kidney Care Killeen on South Fort Hood Street.
“For me and my patients it’s amazing because I can actually relate with sitting with them in the chair,” Moore said “I can go to them and tell them ‘You know what, I know what this is like’.”
At age 25, Moore was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, a kidney disease that can eventually lead to kidney failure.
“After that my husband joined the military and we moved way up north to Fort Drum, New York … in the middle of nowhere,” said Moore, who is originally from Alabama.
Although her doctor had predicted no complications in the near future, the problems started earlier than expected. Moore had experienced high blood pressure and a feeling of general illness but wasn’t able to see a specialist regularly due to her military move.
“I finally got to see an ephrologist and he told me I was in kidney failure within the first five minutes of my appointment,” she said. “I had to start dialysis right away.”
Kidneys control a variety of bodily functions like blood pressure, blood cells and passing waste as urine.
With her husband being deployed to Afghanistan, Moore started her dialysis journey by herself in New York, far away from friends and family. But she found strength in the medical personnel who took care of her.
“The nurses there were wonderful and they spend a lot of time with me,” she said. “I am trying to see the positiveness in every aspect … and they really calmed me down.”
Eventually her family came to move her back to Alabama where she continued her treatment until she was able to get a kidney transplant.
“It happened that my sister was trying to give me her kidney and came to find out that she had the same disease I do,” Moore said.
Friends and family shared her story on Facebook, until a north Austin resident decided to act as her organ donor.
“The kidney transplant came from a person I didn’t even know,” Moore said with tears in her eyes. “This lady found me and got tested and was a match. It was just perfect, I couldn’t have asked for more.”
After receiving her transplant, Moore moved back to New York and decided to go to nursing school to become a dialysis nurse. Her own journey as a patient enables her to truly relate and deeply connect to her own patients.
“I try to give them some tricks but sometimes I just sit with them when they have bad days and try to brighten it up, try to get them positive with hope,” she said.
But not only Moore’s words of affirmation, also witnessing her physical health gives them hope.
“I was working as a floor nurse when I was pregnant and people were just amazed,” she said. “It was especially good for younger patients because they saw you get a transplant … and you can get your life back to normal.”
Now Moore’s daughter is 18 months old and visits her mother and her patients regularly at the dialysis center.
“My patients love seeing her when she is at the office,” said Moore. “Some call her the miracle baby.”
Besides creating a positive and supportive environment in the office, Moore focusses on empowering her patients and involving them in their treatments as much as possible.
“When they are more involved with their care and know what’s going on, they look at things at a brighter side and are happier and healthier,” she said.
Most importantly, however, she reminds them to not let their disease define them.
“You define it,” Moore said. “Horrible things happen but you need to see the positive site. You have this disease but it’s not a death sentence … Your kidneys might fail but there is a semblance of life after it.”