Growing up in Nashville, Tennessee, 29 year old Markeya Douglas attended the First Baptist Church South Inglewood her entire life. As a youth, she watched people praise God and she was in awe of their testimony. So, when asked how she’s dealing with abrupt kidney failure and a life that now includes dialysis, she refuses to complain. Instead, she knows God is seeing her through her kidney journey. She is certain that her struggle will become a part of her testimony allowing her to praise God even more and witness to others.
Markeya’s unexpected battle with kidney disease began in July 2017 when she visited an urgent care clinic thinking her tiredness was related to a sinus infection. She was told by the nurse that her blood pressure was sky high. She needed to see her primary care doctor in the morning. The next morning, Markeya awoke with a severe headache and she still didn’t feel well. Her mother overhead her mentioning her high blood pressure and immediately took Markeya to the local emergency room. It was the emergency room doctor that reviewed blood work and confirmed that Markeya had severe kidney disease.
“I was shocked to learn I had kidney disease,” said Markeya. “Two years before the emergency room visit, I had a routine gynecologist visit and the gynecologist mentioned that my kidney function looked low, but when I followed up with her in the next visit, she said it was nothing to worry about. I never questioned it. Learning in the emergency room that my kidneys were failing was alarming. I didn’t know what to do!”
The next step led Markeya to her primary care doctor who ran additional tests to confirm the kidney disease. He then referred her to a nephrologist, Dr. Dunn, who explained that she had about 9% remaining kidney function. The nephrologist asked her to take blood pressure medication and work with REACH Kidney Care to learn about nutrition and treatment options for kidney failure.
“Dr. Dunn referred me to REACH Kidney Care. I went into REACH and everyone was nice and helpful. In two sessions I was able to get diet information and make a treatment decision,” said Markeya. “I was able to stick to the diet and delay kidney failure for a while.”
As her kidney function was winding down, her family and friends were gearing up to support Markeya. Her youngest brother volunteered to be her living kidney donor, but due to a genetic condition, he was ineligible to donate. Her oldest brother was next to be screened as a living kidney donor and was also found to have a genetic condition that made him ineligible to donate. While additional members of her family were going through the screening process, her father decided they needed to turn to the church for help.
“Dad called REACH and talked to them about coming to our church to talk about kidney disease and living organ donation.”
REACH connected Markeya’s family with Pastor Jonathan Trees who’d had a similar event as his church. Christa Lawson, REACH transplant coordinator, explained the importance of a kidney champion at the event.
On Sunday, February 25, 2018, Markeya’s need for a kidney was made public at the First Baptist Church South Inglewood. Jasmine Hall, the wife of Markeya’s cousin Torrian, stood before the congregation and explained kidney disease facts. She also made a personal plea for the congregation to step out on faith and be tested. REACH Kidney Care was represented by Christa Lawson, transplant coordinator, and Shannon Rappe’, chronic kidney disease care coordinator. They hosted a table with kidney disease and living kidney donor information. At the conclusion of service that day, 19 members of the congregation signed up to be tested as living kidney donors for Markeya.
“I started in-center dialysis about two months ago. It was a struggle in the beginning, but I’ve gotten used to it now. I’m in good spirits about it. God is going to bring me through this so I can praise him and tell others.”