When it Came to Brandon Penny Needing a New Kidney, Mother Knew Best
Brandon Penny’s Mom to The Rescue
When it comes to making everything better for her kids, a mother usually knows just what to do.
But Brandon Penny did not need sage motherly advice, a shoulder to cry on, or to be loaned a few bucks. He needed a new kidney.
Still, his mother knew just what to do.
A Trip to the Dentist
To this day, Brandon’s realization that he was in kidney failure still seems bizarre.
It was June 13, 2017, and he went in for a routine six-month teeth cleaning. The hygienist did a quick blood-pressure check on Brandon and found that his diastolic pressure was 180. They thought it was elevated because of stress or anxiety, so 30 minutes later they retook his blood pressure, and it was still 180.
They told Brandon they could not work on his teeth because his elevated blood pressure could lead to a cardiac event in the chair.
So, Brandon went back to work with every intention of ignoring his experience.
At work, however, several colleagues convinced Brandon to go to the emergency room, which he did, assuming they would just give him a pill or something.
In the ER, they took his blood pressure, and the diastolic pressure was now at 240!
They brought Brandon into a private room, where they took blood work. A doctor came in and told Brandon that he was his nephrologist.
“I had never heard the word ‘nephrologist’ in my life” says Brandon.
Brandon was told he had about 10-18% kidney function.
As a U.S Olympic and Paralympic writer, Brandon Penny has traveled the world and interviewed legendary athletes.
In what now seems like a foreshadowing event of sorts, two of those athletes—gold-medal Olympian Aries Merritt and silver- and bronze-medal Paralympian Amy Purdy—had shared with Brandon their stories about going into kidney failure and having their first-degree relatives be their living-kidney donors.
But prior to that day at the hospital, he paid little—if any—attention to what his kidneys even were—or did.
Brandon’s doctors provided him with a link where people could sign up to donate a kidney to him.
“I posted that on Facebook,” says Brandon. “I had people that I knew from work and high school and all different parts of my life who were signed up to donate. I even had complete strangers.”
But Brandon’s mom ended up being a perfect match.
July 25, 2017
Both Brandon and his mom were nervous leading up to the kidney-transplant date.
“I had never had surgery in my life,” he says. “It was my first and—so far—only surgery. There was a lot that was unknown to me like what could go wrong and how does all of it work.”
After the surgery, it took a few days for Brandon to realize the significance of his new transplant. Once the trauma of having a scar on his stomach has subsided, it finally hit him:
“I now have to take 40 pills a day!”
Brandon is now down to taking 12 pills per day, which include:
- His anti-rejection medications, which he takes twice daily around 12 hours apart
- Blood pressure medications, and
- Vitamin D
Brandon also cooks more now and pays attention to his diet. Having a kidney transplant also allowed him to reconnect with his love of playing tennis.
“I went 12 years without playing tennis,” says Brandon. “I’ve probably played tennis 50 times since the pandemic began.
Brandon recently started using the AlloCare™ app which he says has revolutionized how he manages his post-transplant life.
“The AlloCare app is amazing,” says Brandon. “There is now a one-stop shop to track and stay on top of all the necessary pieces of your physical—and emotional—health. I’m also a huge fan of the consumer-friendly articles and fun facts that the AlloCare app provides.”
To download the AlloCare app, click here.
‘Nothing but Respect’
To living donors everywhere (like his mom), Brandon wants to say thank you.
“I’ve learned in the past three years that I’m incredibly appreciative of people who donate and are willing to donate,” says Brandon. “It’s amazing that people are willing to donate while they are alive.”
The other transplant patients and to those on waiting lists Brandon says, “Hang in there.” Brandon says he knows that he got lucky having his mom as his first-degree-relative living donor, but also realizes that it is not over and that he will have at least one—or even more than one—kidney transplant in his lifetime.
To Brandon, everyone’s story in the organ-transplant community (recipients, donors, family, and friends) is amazing.
“I have nothing but respect for anyone who goes through any part of this.”
Always seek the advice of your physician or medical team with any questions you may have regarding your specific medical condition. The information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice from your healthcare provider.