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Meet a Member of the Rogosin Community: Cindy Hernandez

We enjoy hearing stories about our patients doing amazing things in the world and inspiring others, which is why we thought Rogosin patient Cindy Hernandez would be perfect for our very first Meet A Member of the Rogosin Community column in our brand new newsletter.

2017 was a big year for Cindy: she received her nursing degree and a new kidney!

Cindy was diagnosed with renal failure and lupus when she was 14. When she was 16, her mother, Maria, donated a kidney for her first transplant. Maria said that even before she was tested, she knew she was a match. The first transplant was successful and lasted a number of years, during which Cindy enjoyed good health and completed both her BA in philosophy and chemistry at St. Francis College and a license in massage therapy. These were fantastic achievements, but Cindy wanted more. She wanted to go to nursing school, and was accepted to the Accelerated Nursing Program at the College of Mount Saint Vincent.

Two years ago, shortly after starting her nursing program, Cindy’s health took a turn as her body began to reject her transplanted kidney. She ended up on dialysis at Rogosin’s Manhattan East facility and in need of another kidney. Cindy had no choice but to take medical leave from her program. This didn’t slow her down, though; while on dialysis, she completed online coursework for her nursing degree. She stayed positive and tried to make the most of her time in the dialysis chair. She did homework, read, practiced mindfulness meditation, and built lasting friendships with the Rogosin staff fortunate enough to care for her, particularly her dialysis nurse, Thomas. He inspired her and provided encouragement and support as she worked through her nursing courses.

Last year, Cindy received a second transplant through her father’s participation in the donor exchange network.  He was not a match for Cindy, but was able to donate one of his kidneys to someone who was a match so that Cindy could receive a transplant from someone else. Cindy plans to meet her donor – a woman named Amal who lives in South Carolina – soon. She says that even though they haven’t met, she considers Amal a hero and feels like they are family.

In December, Cindy completed her nursing program. It is customary at many nursing graduation ceremonies for the graduate to receive a pin from a family member or mentor who is a nurse. Cindy asked her dialysis nurse, Thomas, to present her with a kidney pin at graduation. During their time together at Rogosin, Thomas had become not only a close friend to Cindy and her family but a major influence on her nursing studies. She says that having him witness her graduation and participate in the pinning ceremony was incredibly powerful. (Check out the picture of Cindy and Thomas at her graduation).

When we asked Cindy for advice for someone dealing with kidney disease, she said perspective is essential. Only you have control over how you perceive and deal with your situation. Through her challenges, Cindy saw opportunities to grow. Now, she and her mother are NKF living donation spokeswomen. She has gone from being a kidney patient to a fierce advocate for organ donation.

Can you see why she inspires us?

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