Jejuan Brown, who had been receiving dialysis treatment three days a week, in four-hour sessions, for 10 years, had never given much thought to a kidney transplant until one of his friends suggested it. When he came to the University of Maryland Medical Center he did not know what a kidney transplant would do for him, but when he left he not only had a new kidney but also a new nickname – the Roadrunner.
Jejuan says that working out frequently kept his mind off his health problems, so he spent countless hours at the gym. He never imagined that his workout regimen would have such an enormous effect on his life, as he met his future kidney donor, Gwyn, at the gym. She noticed the scars on Jejuan’s arm and inquired about them. He told her about his dialysis treatment, and the two of them became close friends and later began dating.
It was Gwyn who suggested they go to UMMC and take the necessary steps to determine if she could donate him a kidney. It turned out she was a perfect match.
On March 17, 2005, Jejuan underwent a successful kidney transplant -- which was performed by surgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center -- and he was out of bed almost immediately after surgery. The UMMC staff affectionately nicknamed him “The Roadrunner” and told him that they wished all patients felt as wonderful as he did after the surgery. Jejuan proudly says, “They gave me that name because no one could keep up with me on the 8th floor.”
Dialysis and kidney transplants can be extremely uncomfortable and a disheartening experience, but Jejuan refused to see the negative aspects and remained focused on what was important to him. He says, “I refused to give up and I had faith in God. I’ve seen a lot of people pass away on dialysis in my time.” He also says that people who are on dialysis often say that their lives are over. Jejuan has one simple response for this “It is simply not true.”
Jejuan has also developed a special relationship with Dr. Matthew Weir, a nephrologist at UMMC and a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and chuckles as he says, “Every time I visit Dr. Weir he teases me about having a female kidney.”
Jejuan says he is feeling better than ever. He continues to work out regularly, and he also visits frequently with UMMC dialysis center staff, who he fondly thinks of as his second family.
To people receiving dialysis, Jejuan offers these words of encouragement: “Never give up. Just because you are on dialysis doesn’t mean that your life has to end; it is just the beginning.” Jejuan Brown is living proof of that.
-- by Katie Campbell