July 30, 2020
There are many kinds of friends.
There are friends who know just what to say when life hits you with the unexpected. There are friends who help you home after a night of too much celebrating. There are friends who show up for a Zoom meeting in a penguin costume.
Jordan Shaw is this type of friend.
He’s also the type of friend you call when you get a scary lab result or when you hear the news that you’re getting a kidney transplant.
He’s that type of friend because he’s been there, twice.
When Amber Kudrna was 15 and facing her first transplant, a member of her medical team advised her to get in touch with Jordan. He was also listed for a kidney transplant but had been battling health problems since being diagnosed with cancer at age two.
The two went bowling, “just teenagers talking about adult stuff,” Jordan said.
Fifteen years later, their friendship continues.
Shortly after meeting, both Jordan and Amber got their transplants from living donors. After about seven years, both their kidneys started to fail.
Back on the waiting list, Amber and Jordan underwent regular dialysis treatments. Amber noticed another woman about her age also receiving treatment across the room. Being tethered to the dialysis machine, she never got a chance to say hello.
Not long after, she received her second kidney. While recovering from the transplant, she discovered a Facebook message from Anna Schlosser, the dialysis patient from across the room.
Anna had just started nursing school when she began experiencing shortness of breath. A doctor’s visit revealed her kidney was only functioning at eight percent. Two days later she started dialysis and the search for a kidney donor.
A member of her medical team recommended Anna reach out to someone her own age who would understand what she was going through. That someone was Amber.
Soon after they met, Amber introduced Anna to Jordan. The three call themselves “kidney friends.”
Jordan provides the comic relief. Amber is the emotional one. Anna is the straight shooter.
“We’ve always meshed well around pasta at Olive Garden,” said Jordan.
And it’s not just the pasta that keeps them coming together years after their transplants. The three friends support each other through the highs and lows of their medical journeys in ways others can’t.
“We understand the trials and tribulations of the medications, the doctors, the lab work,” said Amber. “Having to explain that to someone who hasn’t been through it is tough.”
“My other friends are nurses and in healthcare, but nobody’s been on the other side of it.”
Together, they’ve shared laughter, medical war stories and some life-changing moments along the way.
Amber and Anna were there to support Jordan when his second kidney failed and he learned that getting a third was not an option.
Jordan and Anna celebrated with Amber when she got married and became a mother.
Amber and Jordan stand ready to raise a toast to Anna when she finishes her Master’s degree in a few months.
They’ve been there when I’ve experienced big life things,” said Amber. “I feel like they’re just along for the ride. I mean they’re kind of stuck with me.”