Ashley Quailes has accomplished more in the past 10 years than many people do in a lifetime. She’s earned multiple certifications and an associate’s degree in applied science. Currently, the 37-year-old is studying behavioral science at Wilmington University.
Life was once very different for the mother of two. Quailes has lupus, which can cause a kidney disease called lupus nephritis. It had started in her late teens, when she had experienced a sudden weight gain. At the time, “I was excited,” said the Maryland native, who wanted curves.
But the swelling was a symptom of kidney failure. Quailes was in the hospital so long that she missed graduating with her high school class. She underwent a kidney transplant at in her home state, but by the time she was in her late 20s, it was failing.
In 2007, she was evaluated for a kidney transplant at ChristianaCare. “Moving to Delaware was the best decision I ever made because, thanks to ChristianaCare, I’m still here,” she said, her voice trembling as she teared up.
While waiting for a kidney, Quailes went on dialysis three days a week, four hours at a time. Then at 4 a.m. one day in early 2011, she learned that ChristianaCare had a kidney available.
Her recovery was smooth, she said. “I was up and moving the same day. The whole transplant team and everyone I came in contact with, including the lab staff, were awesome.”
Her energy matches her exuberance. Once she was well, Quailes earned her diploma from James H. Grove Adult High School and went to Delaware Technical Community College. She also earned a certificate as a dental assistant and worked in the Pierre Touissant Dental Office, a Ministry of Caring program.
In her teens, she’d hoped to travel the world with the Air Force. Now humanitarian missions take her to places like Dubai and Vietnam.
The recipient of a Governor’s Outstanding Award Service Award, Quailes is a sexual assault survivor advocate for the YWCA.
And that’s not all. The Newark resident runs her own cleaning business and is a behavioral health program specialist at Elwyn, a nonprofit that serves children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
She’d like to become a forensic counselor to help assault survivors and start an organization to build confidence in young men, who may not leverage the same community resources as women, she said.
Those who know Quailes aren’t surprised by her achievements.
“As her surgeon, who has known her since she was on our transplant list, I could not be prouder of what she has done to honor the gift given her by her donor and donor family,” said S. John Swanson III, M.D., FACS, surgical director for the Kidney Transplant Program at ChristianaCare.
“I am in my 30th year in the field of transplant surgery, and she epitomizes why I am in it.”
Eileen Edge, senior transplant worker in ChristianaCare’s Kidney Transplant Program, has stayed in contact with Quailes and remains a resource.
“She’s done a lot with the gift she’s been given,” Edge said. “Ashley is a true inspiration and the world is a better place because of her.”