Rev. Joanne Moore-Neal suffered with kidney disease for years. Her illness had a devastating impact on her life and work as pastor of St. Peter’s Mission, a ministry she led from her home in New Castle.
“I was giving communion on my knees because I couldn’t stand that long,” she recalls.
Her doctor encouraged her to get on the transplant list and begin dialysis as bridge treatment. But Moore-Neal opted to forego care.
“I felt that God was going to heal me,” she said.
Each day, all three of her adult daughters called, urging her to start dialysis. Moore-Neal continued to hold off. Her health kept declining.
“My life was miserable,” she said. “I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t eat. I had lost a lot of weight.”
In the end, she had an awakening and came to a new understanding.
“I realized that in getting help, God was giving me an escape route,” she said. “God can use doctors and medicine to heal us.”
For nearly four years, Moore-Neal went to dialysis every other day for sessions lasting four hours. She went on the transplant list, waiting for a deceased donor who was a good match.
“For patients in need of a kidney transplant, and who do not have a living donor, dialysis can be an option while the patient is on the waiting list,” said Velma Scantlebury, M.D., FACS, associate chief of Transplant Surgery, Christiana Care Kidney Transplant Program.
To prepare for her transplant, Moore-Neal, 73, worked with the staff at the transplant center. She had lots of questions about her care and always received prompt, detailed answers.
“I love the whole staff,” she said. “They were very patient and they encouraged me.”
On Feb. 9, 2016, Moore-Neal’s wait was over when she received a new kidney. Dr. Scantlebury performed her surgery.
Overnight, her life improved.
“I got up the next day and I felt good,” she recalled.
The transplant empowered Moore-Neal to lead a more active life. She can walk for longer distances. She no longer plans her days around treatments.
“I have my days back,” she said. “On dialysis, it ruled my week.”
She also regained the pounds she had lost.
Moore-Neal now volunteers to work with Clare Shumate, BSN, Christiana Care’s transplant coordinator, to share her experiences with prospective transplant patients.
“I can reassure them that they are working with a great team,” she said. “For me, they were a gift from God.”