Praying for a 'miracle' donor
“I need someone to save my life,” said Carol Mitola.
“It is as simple as that. The problem is, I hate, hate, hate to be the one asking for help. It is not who I am. It is not what I do. I am ‘the fixer’, I host holidays, I am the do-er,” said Carol.
Carol, who taught in Cranston for 29 years is in End Stage kidney failure, with only eight percent of function.
In 2014, after losing her mother in April, she was diagnosed with kidney disease in June.
“I had no symptoms. The doctor found it through simple, routine blood tests. There is no history of this in my family. I never drank or smoked. I have no other health issues other than this,” she said.
Carol feels she has had a very good life.
“I have had many blessings in my life. My childhood was a happy one with loving and supportive parents and a sister who I consider to be my best friend. Family is a central part of my life. My husband, George, and I adopted two daughters. In 1998, we adopted my daughter, Kara, from Russia and in 2003, Marissa from Romania. We are very blessed with our daughters who continue to provide us with lasting memories, joy and love that we will cherish forever,” she said.
Carol has taught all over the district including, the now closed John Horton and Valentine Almy elementary schools, Arlington, Woodridge, Dutemple and Edgewood Highland. After getting her Master’s degree she taught children how to speak English at Norwood Avenue, Edgewood Highland, George Peters, Gladstone, Park View and Bain, which was one of the most rewarding teaching positions.
“Later I was reassigned to teach English at Western Hills. When I leaned that the music teacher was retiring, I took that job, and later taught as a music itinerant at many elementary schools including Eden Park, Waterman, Peters and Garden City,” she said.
After the initial diagnosis, her next step in this arduous journey was to see a nephrologist (kidney doctor) from RI Hospital.
“It was a typical fall, sunny morning in September as I sat nervously in the nephrologist’s waiting room. Once again I was told that my kidneys (both of them) were failing and I had two options: dialysis for a temporary solution which would replace some of the kidneys’ function and, which eventually becomes very taxing on the body. My best option is receiving a kidney transplant from a living donor,” she said.
Carol has undergone the required tests to be officially on the National Kidney waiting list since 2014 and has at least another two or more years to wait for a cadaveric (deceased) donor.
“Shortly after I received this devastating diagnosis in 2014, one of my friends offered to be my kidney donor. Although I was faced with an uncertain future, I felt I had been blessed again with this selfless gesture,” said Carol.
The donor was initially screened as a match and would be tested again later when her kidneys were declining. This June 2017, my kidney function declined to the End Stage with only eight percent functioning and she would need to have a transplant this fall.
However, several weeks ago, Carol and her family received crushing news.
“My kidney donor’s doctor had a concern with one of the preliminary tests and they could no longer be a donor. I was stunned with this awful news and I knew I would have to begin an immediate search for another kidney donor and I did not have much time,” she said.
Carol has known for the past three years she’s been at 12 percent of kidney functions, with end stage being any number under ten percent.
Her symptoms are typical of kidney failure; nauseous, no appetite, bedridden, and exhausted all the time.
“This disease is very unpredictable Dr. Christopher Cosgrove is the coordinator the transplant, I see him every few months. every six weeks now. I take life day-to-day, hour by hour some days. Getting dressed, showered, dressing can wear me out for the day, sometimes I will get a burst of energy. Transplant patients are encouraged to walk every day to keep things moving,” Carol said.
While she is no currently on dialysis, her doctor might change his mind about recommending it. It depends on patient’s parameters it is advantageous not to go on dialysis.
“There are no real concerns for a healthy donor. Sex doesn’t matter, there’s an individual screening, blood work, health history, if blood type is a match, and the donor is in pretty good health, regular recovery time is no different from any laparoscopic procedure, generally, donor in hospital for three days,” she said.
Ever since getting that news, Carol has been mailing letters and flyers to her family and has reached out to her church, Holy Apostles, to share her story in hope of finding a new donor as soon as possible.
“Although we are born with two kidneys, we only need one to lead a healthy life. The best option for me is to receive a kidney from a living donor. As I continue this desperate search for my ‘gift of life’, it has been extremely difficult to ask for help. I have always been a strong, caring person who is ready to lend a helping hand. My hope is to find a living donor so that I can continue to be there for my daughters and husband and continue to make joyful memories with my family and friends,” she said.
For Carol, it was difficult to get this news, so difficult to ask somebody to donate such a gift for her to live. She is relying on someone else, and that’s the hardest part.
If you can help or have any questions, please contact Sara Gibb, Transplant Coordinator at RI Hospital at 444-3091. All inquiries and conversations will be kept confidential. You can also call Carol directly at 569-1611.