These South Texas triplets are searching for a kidney donor to save their brother's life
SAN DIEGO – The strength of siblings can always be determined by the struggles life throws at them. Every day we face challenges and for some of us those challenges mean the difference between life and death.
For brothers, Rolando, Roel and Rene Guerrero the bond between them started from the moment they were born and has only gotten stronger.
The 50-year-old triplets from San Diego are always doing things together including working in construction and cleaning the local cemetery.
But the last several years they've faced one of their greatest challenges.
The middle brother, Roel, suffered a stroke several years back and then in 2018 he began to have complications with his kidneys. He started dialysis that same year but his kidneys are now failing.
“Some people have bad days, I have bad weeks," Roel said. "With the stroke, my left side is always in pain. My foot and my left hand and up to my shoulder. It's all part of the stroke."
At first, Roel was getting his dialysis treatments at a Corpus Christi medical facility.
Despite the health issues the brothers' bond has only grown. The oldest brother, Rolando, learned to do Roel's dialysis at home. That helped avoid the long trips to Corpus Christi for the treatments and the risk of issues with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In my group, we've seen five people die as they waited for a kidney. Someone at the facility got COVID and died,” Roel said. “Being there was a risk for me. How can I fight COVID with everything I already deal with?”
Rolando took a five-week course to be certified to do Roel's dialysis treatments at home. Mondays and Fridays are the only days he doesn't do dialysis treatments, but those days are also reserved for other medical appointments such as a trip to the pain specialist.
“If that's what he wanted then that's what I'd do. I did it and I've learned for him. I'll keep doing it as long as I need to,” Rolando said.
Currently, Roel gets dialysis at home five days out of the week. Each treatment is four hours long.
HOPE FOR A KIDNEY DONOR
In 2020, Roel was placed on the kidney transplant list in hopes to get a healthy kidney.
“Our sister, Sylvia, was compatible, but just as they were prepared to do the procedure her A1C went up so they couldn't. She is working on getting it lowered, but there's no telling how long that will take,” Rolando said. “(Roel) was crushed when our sister's A1C went up. He just wanted to quit completely and for him to quit...If he quits, he dies.”
A1C is a blood test for type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes. It measures a person's average blood glucose, or blood sugar, level over the past three months.
“My brother's situation has affected all of us,” said older sister Elma Guerrero. “But of course it's harder for the triplets. It's physical for (Roel), but it's also mental and emotional for all three of them as triplets.”
Elma and Rene said that they would give Roel their kidneys in a heartbeat if they could. At this time none of the other siblings are compatible because they all have medical issues of their own.
“I'm on the transplant list. I got on the list late last year, but the average wait is six to seven years. I don't want to be on dialysis for that long. I want to enjoy life,” Roel said. “When COVID started, it was like my chances were getting less and less. More people getting sick and that makes it harder, not just for me, but for anyone who needs a donor.”
The family decided it’s time to take matters into their own hands and hopefully speed things up by encouraging people to see if they are a match for Roel.
The family of 11, including the triplets, have decided that they need to spread awareness and educate people about kidney failure and how to be a living donor. Not just in the hopes that Roel can receive a kidney but that anyone in need can have the opportunity to receive a healthy kidney and live life as it was meant to be.
“I'd appreciate a donor. That would be one less thing I'd have to worry about. The donor doesn't have to be a family member. They just have to be healthy, no smoking, no drugs and no drinking,” Roel said.
Since 2014, 90 percent of Roel's life has been consumed by medical treatments and appointments.
“If I get a kidney, I want to just live again. Be able to travel with my brothers and enjoy the smaller things in life. Enjoy life as it should be,” Roel said.
To be a living donor for Roel or anyone else visit www.livingdonor-methodistsa.com.