By Gary Lloyd
PINSON — Rudd Middle School special education teacher Tracy Spraggins couldn’t believe it.
She needed a kidney transplant and her husband, James, had stepped up. He was found to be perfect match, down to the same blood type and tissue type.
The only issue was his slightly high blood pressure. He weighed close to 260 pounds but trimmed that to 198 in about six months. He wore a blood pressure monitor, and it told the couple that his blood pressure was still too high, and doctors at UAB said it would be “too risky” for him to donate to his wife, Spraggins said.
That was June 4.
“We were devastated,” said Spraggins, who was diagnosed with lupus at age 6 and is now 37 years old. “We could not believe it.”
Spraggins said the week following was “devastating” because not only was she not getting a new kidney, but the process had to start over. When one kidney center denies a transplant, patients can try at others, a process that takes a long time.
“We’re not going to stop,” Spraggins said.
Spraggins in 2012 was first told she’d have to go on dialysis, so her kidneys could live. After an extensive evaluation, she was accepted to a national kidney transplant list. Spraggins said she was “really afraid” at first, and she didn’t know if she’d be able to work. She likes working at Rudd Middle School, with exceptional education students.
Spraggins does dialysis at night while she’s sleeping, so that she doesn’t have to go to a center and can keep going to work. Her lifestyle has changed a little bit. When she and James go on vacation via airplane, they have to think three weeks in advance, so her dialysis equipment will be there.
A fundraiser held in April has really helped the couple financially. Spraggins has also received phone calls and cards, from family, friends and co-workers.
“The support has been great,” she said. “They have come through 100 percent. We’ve been really thankful.”
When the 2014-2015 school year begins in early August, Spraggins plans to be there, working with her students.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” she said.
Knowing a donor is out there, ready to give her a kidney, however, could come at a moment’s notice. She could be at school when she gets the call.
“I’ve got to put everything down and say, ‘Hey guys, I love y’all at school and I’ll see you in a couple weeks, a couple months,’” she said.
Anyone interested in potentially donating a kidney to Spraggins may call her at 205-240-1476 for more information. To give to the couple, visit www.jamespjspraggins.com.
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.