The Ultimate Christmas Gift

Teresa Eick

December 07, 2022

December truly is the most wonderful time of the year for Teresa and Norman Eick of Albany, New York. “Norm looks a little like a certain legendary figure known as the traditional patron of Christmas,” says Teresa of her husband who throughout the month dons a red suit and takes photos with excited children at the Capital Region’s largest holiday themed attraction. 

“It’s a family affair,” says Norman who explains that over the years, Teresa has pitched in by making costumes for his helpers when she’s not caring for her patients as a home health nurse. “This year, Teresa made both of my incredibly detailed Santa suits, she’s so talented and this is something we both look forward to every December,” he says.

Making this holiday season even more special for the Eicks is the early Christmas present Teresa recently received. “I’ve been in need of a kidney transplant and expected it would take years for a match, but I received a call in November to pack my bags and head to Hackensack, N.J., where my early Christmas gift was waiting for me.”

A Long Road with Kidney Disease

Teresa has been suffering from kidney disease since she was a young woman. “I’m a twin and my sister also has kidney disease but my situation became much worse in December of 2020 when I was diagnosed with end stage renal failure,” explains Teresa. Teresa also suffered a severe bout of COVID-19 in February of that same year, which didn’t help the situation.

“As a nurse, I knew what was happening to my body, it was scary,” says Teresa, whose prognosis was so bad, she was going for peritoneal dialysis four times a day, seven days a week, when it was recommended that she register for a kidney donation at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey because the hospital’s Kidney Transplant Program is among the fastest-growing in the nation with the team having performed more than 200 kidney transplants so far this year alone.

“Patients who come to Hackensack for kidney transplantation have much shorter wait times to receive a donor kidney than other centers in the tri-state area due to our high organ acceptance rates and innovative strategies to maximize kidney utilization,” explains Michael J. Goldstein, M.D., director, Division of Organ Transplantation, Hackensack University Medical Center.

Additionally, Hackensack University Medical Center is one of a handful of medical centers in the nation to perform kidney transplants with kidneys preserved within its Organ Preservation Center using hypothermic machine preservation technology.

“Hypothermic machine preservation is a cutting-edge, life-saving technology that increases a kidney’s viability and lifespan,” explains Dr. Goldstein who says the technology expands the window of time in which a kidney can be used, and further reduces the time it takes to receive a kidney transplant. “This new technology helps us improve patient outcomes and save more lives,” he says.

It’s a Match

“I was so shocked when I got the call, after being on Hackensack’s transplant list for only seven months,” says Teresa. “I literally dropped the phone and the call got disconnected. Toni Carrea, the Transplant Waitlist Navigator for the hospital, called me back laughing.”

Teresa knows very little about her deceased donor other than the fact that his kidney was very healthy. “I’m so grateful to have received this gift of life from him,” she says.

“It’s the ultimate Christmas gift that has exponentially changed our lives for the better,” says Norman.

“This December, I hope everyone considers celebrating the holiday season by registering to be an organ donor,” says Dr. Goldstein. “It is a gift that costs nothing but may be the most magnificent legacy of a person’s life.”

Teresa Eick

Next Steps and Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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