Family thankful for successful transplant

Dewanda Joseph and her nephew, Taiwan Walker, are recovering from a kidney transplant operation. She was the donor and he, the recipient.

"We've been close since he was born," Joseph said. "He's my baby, the child that I didn't birth myself. This is my son."

The procedure was done at California Pacific Medical Center the day before thanksgiving.

"My original color came back," Walker said. "I just feel better, just like that."

Walker suffered from high blood pressure which damaged his kidneys. For the past three years he's had to undergo dialysis three times a week.

When his aunt was identified as a potential donor, both admit they were hesitant.

"You know I had to check my insides and my motives and why was I doing this and it's been a journey," Joseph said. "I've grown so much."

"As bad as I wanted to be off dialysis, I didn't want to be off that bad to where she was helping me and something happened to her," Walker said.

But death or other medical consequences following a kidney donation are extremely rare.

For recipients, the success rate is high. According to the organ transplantation network, about 98 percent of people who receive a living-donor kidney transplant live for at least one year after their surgery. About 90 percent live for at least five years.

"We have a mission that we have to accomplish as being able to go through this miracle of what we did, to share with others."

The successful outcome has given them a new purpose in life. Both have vowed to raise organ donation awareness.

"It is important to get your name on the list because in the African American community, there are fewer donors," hospital spokesperson Marie Hartlein said.

Walker couldn't eat turkey yesterday; instead he was given a roasted turkey hat, which he proudly wore for this interview.

"But I got a kidney yesterday and got my life back yesterday so that was better than any dry turkey."

Thank you to Stephanie Aldridge, Walker's cousin, who told us about the operation through Facebook.

Besides being an advocate for change, Walker says now that he doesn't have to undergo dialysis, he has a lot of free time. He wants to travel a bit.

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