Honey Amado Gave Her Son the Gift of Life—Twice
May 12, 2017 Cedars-Sinai Staff
At age 22, Micah Amado needed a new kidney. His mother, Honey, was the first to be tested. She was a match, and came to her son’s rescue.
"As parents, we do what we can do when it's needed, even with no guarantee that it is forever."
"I've always felt I gave this child life twice," she says. "I feel pretty lucky to have been able to do that."
Micah feels pretty lucky too.
"Mother's Day is a good day to celebrate her being my mother," he says. "But that’s just one day. There are 364 other days that I also use to try to let her know how important she is to me."
In 2007, Micah was diagnosed with renal disease after routine blood tests showed elevated levels of creatinine, a waste product everyone has in their blood from normal wear and tear on muscles. Further testing found he had kidney disease and his kidneys would soon fail.
A transplant was the only answer.
"With renal failure, you don't really notice anything until you're in the hospital," Micah says. "You might have some signs of fatigue, but nothing that anybody would really raise an eyebrow about, so it can go undiagnosed in a lot of people."
A decade after the successful transplant, Micah now needs a new kidney again, a challenge the family is confronting together. Even as the family faces this challenge, Honey says that the chance she had to give her son a kidney still has great value to her.
"I've always felt I gave this child life twice."
"We're happy for the 10 years the kidney worked for him," she says. "It's still meaningful for me. As parents, we do what we can do when it's needed, even with no guarantee that it is forever."
In gratitude, the family established the Maurice Amado Foundation Kidney Transplant Research Fund. That gift supported the research of Micah's doctor, Dr. Stanley C. Jordan, director of Division of Nephrology, medical director of the Kidney Transplant Program and medical director of the Human Leukocyte Antigen and Transplant Immunology Laboratory.
"The gift has allowed rapid advances to occur toward new therapeutics that will help save the lives of many more people who suffer from end-stage organ failure," Dr. Jordan says.
The fund has supported Jordan's research and his work with intravenous immunoglobin therapy, a process that prevents the body from attacking a newly transplanted kidney in highly sensitized patients—about 40% of all kidney transplant recipients.
"I'm amazed by the imagination of somebody who one day said, 'What if we took a kidney from a healthy person and gave it to somebody with unhealthy kidneys?'" Honey says. "Then someone like Dr. Jordan has the ingenuity to build on that. It's a respect for life that I'm grateful for, and happy we can contribute to this work."
"Mother's Day is a good day to celebrate her being my mother. But that’s just one day. There are 364 other days that I also use to try to let her know how important she is to me."
Honey shares lessons she's learned as a caregiver and mother of someone with serious health issues:
Remember it's their journey
When a loved one is handling a serious health issue, you can only help—you cannot handle it for them. At the same time, caretakers need to find outlets for their emotions and anxiety. Honey says she talks to a few select friends and family members—but not in front of the loved one who is having the health problem. "They need to have the space to have their own feelings," she says.
Remember to just listen
You don't always have to fill a silence or grasp for the "right" thing to say. "When my son is upset or anxious, the best thing I can do is just listen. If he's quiet, I am quiet with him."
It's OK to set boundaries
You're not obligated to share the details of what you or your loved one is going through with everyone who asks. "It's not being untrue to ourselves to say to most of the world that we're fine or doing OK," Honey says. While having support is important, you can choose where to find that support.
Allow yourself a break from your problems
For Honey, observing Shabbat means giving herself a vacation from worry. "I'm able to say to myself, today I am going to be free of my problems," she says. "Everyone's dealing with something, and we're entitled to create spaces for ourselves where, for that time, everything is fine."
Honey is a grateful patient and supporter of the Campaign for Cedars-Sinai. Learn more about the Campaign.
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