Guest Story - Touching the Heartland

Brittany and her mom, Amy

Twenty-seven-year-old Brittany was not feeling particularly well when she and her family left their home in Kansas City, Missouri in early July.   The family had selected a time-share resort in Angels Camp, California, for its vacation destination.  The family departed the heartland of America and set sights on the rich history in the heart of gold rush territory. 

After renting a car at the Sacramento airport and driving to Angels Camp, they settled in for the night.  The plan was to drive up Highway 4 to Calaveras Big Trees State Park the next morning and see the giant Sequoia grove.  Brittany still didn’t feel well so she stayed at the resort while the rest of the family went sightseeing.  Another day passed and Brittany was feeling worse.  They went to the local rural health clinic and were quickly referred to the hospital in San Andreas.  The medical staff at the hospital put Brittany on a ventilator, sedated her and arranged for a life flight to UC Davis Medical Center (UCDMC) in Sacramento.

Brittany’s mother, Amy, says that her daughter has never been sick in her life and has never been hospitalized.  Her diagnosed kidney failure was so unexpected.  She is in the hospital two thousand miles from home receiving dialysis and waiting for a kidney transplant.  Dad has had to return to Kansas City to keep his job and now Amy is here alone with Brittany.  

As is the case with all of our guest families, the hospital initially determined the duration of Amy’s stay at Kiwanis Family House when it made the referral.  But we often learn that the initial referral must be extended.  Patients don’t always respond favorably to treatment and there are often setbacks and challenges to overcome.  Sometimes, the referral is a guess because the doctors haven’t yet diagnosed the patient’s condition.  This was the case with Brittany.  The staff at Kiwanis Family House tries very hard to meet the changing needs of our guests.  We often hear “I will need to extend my stay.”  Most of the time we can accommodate these changes; sometimes we cannot. 

When the medical professionals determined that Brittany was dealing with kidney failure, it became clear that Amy would be here for longer than the initial referral.  She was originally scheduled to check out on Sunday, July 15.  At the last minute we were able to extend her through the end of August. 

Brittany is doing better and her condition has stabilized, but as Amy says “She is not out of the woods yet.”  She still needs a kidney transplant and Amy is hoping that a donor is found soon.  In the meantime, Amy will stay at Kiwanis Family House, knowing that she is near Brittany.  “I am very thankful for Kiwanis Family House. We could not have afforded a hotel for this long.  Our room is clean and comfortable.  The staff has been so kind and accommodating.  Our world was turned upside down overnight.  I have a friend from work back home who is always talking about Kiwanis and now I know why. “