By Virginia Lucero.
It began with a sore throat and leg cramps. Gustavo Galicia thought it was the flu when he suddenly began vomiting. The flu goes away but the symptoms kept getting worse and his own physician had no answers for him. So he went to a second doctor and while in the office, the nurse noticed that the blood she was extracting for tests was orange.
At the age of 18, Galicia was diagnosed with kidney failure, a diagnosis that would turn his and his family’s lives upside down. Six years later, Galicia goes to the hospital every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday night from 6pm to 1:10am for nocturnal dialysis for stage five kidney disease; there are only five stages of chronic kidney disease, and Gustavo is in the end stage.
At that original diagnosis, the doctor ordered the Galicia’s to get Gustavo to the hospital immediately. In shock, his parents took him home instead where they calmed themselves over homemade chicken soup and told his siblings the bad news. When he finally got to the hospital, he had to endure another 7 hour wait.
“I would tell myself, why can’t I be in his place instead?” Gustavo’s mom said, who tried to maintain a brave façade for her son, “It really broke my heart and my husband’s heart to see our baby in a hospital not knowing what was wrong with him.”
After the anxious waiting and the proper examinations and tests were administered, four doctors approached Gustavo with the diagnosis: kidney failure. He was immediately admitted to the hospital and put on dialysis treatment for about a month. Dialysis is an artificial process of removing waste, salt, and excess water from the bloodstream to prevent waste from building up in the body. Although dialysis prolongs the life of a patient, it does not cure kidney disease. Without dialysis treatment, Gustavo would have weeks, possibly months, before facing death.
While in the hospital, his mom noticed how fearful the other patients seemed but Gustavo said, “It will all be good,”
“I remember the doctor was puzzled as to why Gustavo could be very ill but still have a very positive outlook on what could be ahead,” his mom said.
The Galicia family has struggled with the sudden ailment. Gustavo himself quit his part time job and put a halt to his education. His twin brother Fernando also dropped out of Cal Poly Pomona, and his mother and sister took time off work to support Gustavo. They altered their eating habits and omitted all salt and potassium to lessen any stresses on Gustavo’s health. The entire family put their lives on pause to make sure Gustavo would pull through.
Six years since the initial diagnosis, the Galicia family continues to give each other support, and along with Gustavo’s positive attitude, their faith and prayers have helped them remain hopeful about his condition. Fernando has since gone back to school, and a new baby has brightened the lives of the Galicia family. “Right now the baby gets all the attention,” Gustavo happily grumbles.
Gustavo does not paint himself a grim future, despite the seriousness of stage five renal disease. He attends Chaffey Community College in Rancho Cucamonga with a major in business management. Although he admits that his hospital visits disrupt his schedule, he still tries to maintain the life of a normal student.
In order to have a long and healthy life, it is necessary for him to have a kidney transplant. Although he has insurance, there are extra, transplant-related expenses such as co-pays and deductibles, doctor visits, and costly lifelong medication, which amounts to $20,000. In order for him to be on an active transplant list at Loma Linda Hospital, he must have that amount in reserve funds. Even then it may take years to locate a donor.
Dialysis is keeping me alive,.” Galicia says of his regimen, “Even though I don’t seem sick, there are days where I feel terrible and so I am very happy for the support I have received from family and friends.” That support includes Chaffey College students who conducted a fundraiser for him and raised $1,864 which was deposited into his account with HelpHopeLive.
On his facebook page, Galicia writes, “With your help and support…I look forward to the day when I can attend school full-time and actively promote kidney disease awareness and organ donation.”
Galicia has just been informed he is back on the UNOS Kidney Transplant list and is still a candidate for the active transplant waiting list at Loma Linda University Medical Center. He still needs to raise $8,000 (of the $20,000 requirement) in order to be placed on the active transplant list. If you would like to contribute to Gustavo’s fund, visit http://www.helphopelive.org and type Gustavo Galicia into the patient box.