Teana Walker was only 22 years old when she was diagnosed with polycystic kidney and liver disease, a genetic disorder that causes thousands of fluid-filled cysts to grow in her kidney and liver.
It was terrifying news for the young woman, who had her life ahead of her. However, it wasn’t an unfamiliar disease to her – her grandmother and dad suffered from it. She knew that sooner or later she would be diagnosed with it, but didn’t know just how much the disease would impact her life.
Over the next 15 years, she monitored the disease closely with the help of her doctor, but her cyst-covered liver and kidney would become an astonishing three times their normal size. As her cysts grow larger, the area surrounding her organs becomes restricted. This means that she constantly feels immense pressure and discomfort in her abdomen. With little room, her stomach can only accommodate small portions of food.
“It can be a nightmare but I try to be positive,” Teana says. “On a daily basis, I look and feel bloated although I’m not able to consume the daily amount of food I require. I also have high blood pressure because of the cysts. There are so many other complications that can result from this disease; it’s not something I would wish on anyone.”
Since her diagnosis, Teana has adjusted her lifestyle to help increase her quality of life and keep her organs as healthy as possible. One routine that makes all the difference for her is an annual visit to the interventional radiology suite at Regina General Hospital.
Interventional radiology is a medical specialty which provides image-guided diagnosis and treatment of diseases in nearly every organ system. Teana undergoes a minimally-invasive procedure where an interventional radiologist inserts an ultrasound-guided needle directly into the cysts to drain the fluid buildup.
Teana relies on this very critical procedure to help reduce her discomfort, and delay reduced kidney function that can lead to kidney failure later on in life.
"This medical procedure has changed my life immensely,” she says. “It relieves the pressure on my kidneys and other organs and gives me the ability to live a more comfortable everyday life."
My experience has opened my eyes to the importance of donating to Hospitals of Regina Foundation. These donated funds support the critical work that is done in Regina’s hospitals to give people like me a better life.
Last year, 5,000 patients underwent minimally-invasive therapeutic and diagnostic imaging procedures in Regina’s hospitals. Through these life-changing procedures, patients like Teana are exposed to less risk, less pain and less recovery time in comparison to traditional surgery.
“Support from our community ensures people across southern Saskatchewan receive quality local health care through the technologically-advanced therapeutic and diagnostic imaging procedures offered in Regina’s hospitals,” says Dino Sophocleous, president and CEO, Hospitals of Regina Foundation. “Having local access to these procedures is life-changing for many and allows patients to live better lives.”