Michael Machado Receives Kidney in 7 Months

It was the summer of 2013, and I was preparing myself for another long, strenuous semester of college. “One year left,” I told myself. But instead of making my way to campus, I would be confronted with a symphony of events that would change my life forever, and in ways I never could have imagined.

My name is Michael Machado. I’m twenty-four years old, and on August 8, 2013, I went into renal failure. As I was developing in my mom’s cozy stomach, it was discovered I had uretero pelvic junction obstruction, a medical term meaning a blockage in both ureters. Shortly after birth, I had two operations to repair the condition and as I got older, my doctors reported that I would live a happy, healthy life without any kidney issues.

Each year we checked and received the same results. Finally, a closer look at my lab results would show I was losing kidney function by age eighteen. Like most young adults, I was distracted. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, let alone what type of career I’d pursue.

I accepted a gracious offer from a family member to move to Northern California, where I would spend the next eight months in Community College, soon transferring to a four-year university. It was there against the sprawling seascape of San Francisco that I found myself, my direction, and created strong relationships with people who ultimately would play an important role in my life, my diagnosis and my present road to recovery.

The next couple of years went by fast. I met the girl of my dreams. I was near completing a bachelor’s degree in International Business and working full-time. I was just getting ready to return to school from the summer break when my life changed forever. I was admitted to the hospital with lab numbers twenty times higher than normal. I spent those first nine days in the hospital in Santa Cruz. Both kidneys had quit working and I was silently dying, but I didn’t know it.

In fact the week prior, I was skydiving with my amazing girlfriend and was without a care in the world. This process from near death to functioning again has been a shock for my entire family. From getting my labs in order, to preparing meals that adhere to my new diet, ESRD is not an easy life. It’s challenging, emotional and stressful, but I have learned that it is possible. I’ve been fortunate to have the love and support of my family, and there are so many resources available and willing to assist patients like me.

On February 18, just about seven months since I was diagnosed, my best friend, Kellen, gave me one of his kidneys. His surgery was done through the scope and lasted a couple hours while mine required an incision about six inches long.

When the doctor called the waiting room to report his success, there were forty-three people gathered, praying, holding vigil and sending me positive energy. The doctor told my dad that the kidney was “big and pink and vibrant.” My father told me later that the doctor had a certain joy and almost a song in his voice even though he had preformed over 500 kidney transplants.

“He was especially excited,” reported my dad, through his own tears, “He even said the kidney started to work immediately. That you were urinating all over the operating table.”

Though I’d prefer to have missed this particular party, kidney disease has been a remarkable and life changing experience for me. The personal growth, humility, and opportunity to help others is now part of my life’s work. I know that I’m not alone in this venture, as I’ve met more people with kidney problems than I ever thought possible.

During this process, I’ve learned many important lessons. Most importantly, I’ve learned that above all else, you must be an advocate for yourself. I’ve also come to find out that, miraculously, everything seems to happen for a reason. I’ve always tried to see the positive in my situation, and I believe it has helped me accept what has happened. We’re not alone in this fight, and we can’t give up.