For many of the more than 100,000 Americans currently waiting for a kidney transplant, having a strong support system to help encourage them throughout their transplant journey can be critical. Kidney transplant recipient Patrick Boenzi is well aware of that.
Boenzi’s transplant journey began in July 2015. He was hospitalized at St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Illinois before being transferred to UChicago Medicine. His kidneys and liver were failing.
Being on the transplant list for one organ was overwhelming enough. Needing a dual transplant led to even more fear and uncertainty. What helped Boenzi most were his relationships with his girlfriend Nora, his parents and his care team at DaVita Kidney Care.
Boenzi was fortunate that his liver recovered fairly quickly, allowing him to be removed from the liver transplant list. His dialysis journey began a month later at DaVita Renal Center in West Joilet. Because of his poor health, Boenzi didn’t feel up to going out and interacting with others like he used to. His care team at DaVita became his community and together, they redefined his definition of fun. The team supported him through graft failures and celebrated with him after he received a fistula to improve his blood flow.
“There was never a lack of information, and the team provided countless examples of the transplant process and previous experiences patients had,” recalled Boenzi. “I was informed about my dialysis modality options and ultimately decided that in-center hemodialysis was best for me. Staying on the transplant list while also undergoing dialysis was a no brainer. It was survival.”
After four years of in-center hemodialysis, Boenzi received a kidney transplant on Feb. 23, 2019. A year later, Boenzi and Nora continually challenge each other to maintain a healthier lifestyle. When he runs into one of his former DaVita caregivers at the grocery store, it’s like running into a long-time friend. His parents visit every week and his dad accompanies him to his monthly check-ups.
Boenzi has also started working again as a dump truck driver for a local construction company. He says that his new normal has been realized, thanks to all the wonderful caregivers who surrounded him and the organ donor who gave him the gift of life.