COLORADO SPRINGS — Before Bobby Mckee could get a needed kidney transplant, not only did an eligible donor need to be found, but the nursing staff at the UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central renal medicine unit had to keep him alive.
The staff’s care had a profound impact on Bobby, his fiance and many others. Bobby says, “I can't even put it into words. They saved my life several times. It's very difficult to express how meaningful that is. I know that they know they make a difference in my life, but I don't think they understand the extent that they make a difference. Your nurses and your techs are the ones you see every day, several times a day. Those are the people you build a relationship with. Here on (the renal medicine unit), it's become a relationship that I never want to end. I want to stay in touch and they are still my family.”
Having become his extended family, you can imagine the staff reaction when Bobby got the news that a kidney donor had been found.
Jennifer Johnson, RN renal medicine unit: “The day he got the news he came up to the hospital to share it with us. It's been so exciting, and I'm excited for his future. He and Tiffany have been planning a wedding for some time over the years.”
Alysha Jackson, a CNA says, “I was over the moon. If anybody is deserving of this, it was Bobby. We were just so excited and we wanted to celebrate with him and we made a video just to show our excitement and how thankful we were that he got the second chance at life.”
The video contained short messages from many members of the staff, filled with excitement, well wishes, messages of encouragement. As Bobby prepared for his journey to Indiana for his transplant, he says the video meant the world to him. Bobby says, “I was crying, it was completely unexpected and it was very much appreciated. That's a very serious surgery, and a scary situation so to have the staff here, in your corner ready to cheer you on and whatever happens, really really makes a difference! Weekly, I got a check-in’s from the staff here asking ‘how's everything going?’ I remained in Indiana after the surgery for three months, and they were constantly calling me and checking on me. It meant the world - really to know that people genuinely care.”
Getting a second kidney transplant has changed Bobby's life in so many ways. His quality of life has improved vastly. Bobby says every time he returns to Memorial Hospital to have his blood work done at the lab, he always makes a visit to the 5th floor, where his memories are bittersweet. “You make a lot of friends the longer you spend with people and they become family and that’s exactly what’s happened here. Because of my family at home and my family here in Colorado, because I had their support it was also very easy to have hope.”
Through this journey, it's not just Bobby whose life has been changed. For the staff on the renal unit at Memorial Central, it’s their connection with patients like Bobby that makes it all worthwhile. Alysha says, “It's changed my life. It's made me a better person and it's made me appreciate life. I was so carefree, 28 years old and I was living life without care. I came and worked in the hospital and in a moment your life can change. It's made me want to serve my community and want to help others and keep doing what I'm doing.”
Jennifer says she holds her relationship with Bobby very close to her heart. “It's been absolutely amazing and it’s one of the reasons I stay on this unit for the relationship-based care. We see a lot of the same patients again and again, and we go through their journey from when they start kidney failure, to exciting times like now when they get the transplant. As much as we make an impact on patients' lives, like Bobby, he has made an impact on ours.”
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