Denville, N.J., residents Debra and Allan Kaufman have a strong connection to New York sports, as the two are longstanding Giants and Yankees fans.
“We still enjoy it,” the Bronx-born Debra Kaufman said. “We’re very rah-rah for our teams.”
You see, sports have been the Kaufmans’ saving grace through the difficult times, as they watch and cheer on their favorite football and teams.
Kaufman, 60, has been battling medical conditions since the age of 11 when her doctor diagnosed her with Type I diabetes.
Additionally, in 1995, she developed pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure) during her pregnancy with her son Bryan.
Kaufman said the condition ultimately led to end-stage renal disease eight years later, and she would require kidney dialysis and an eventual transplant, leveling her spirits at the time.
“The doctors determined that I had kidney failure,” Kaufman explained. “They told me that I would need a kidney transplant, or I would be on dialysis for the rest of my life. I never heard of the things they were telling me. It was like an out-of-body experience.”
Kaufman endured dialysis treatments for approximately six months. Fortunately for her, her sister decided to get tested to see if she was a living donor kidney transplant match.
Thankfully, she was, and they received their surgeries on October 27, 1993. Everything worked out accordingly for 24 years, and Kaufman said her sister had suffered no ill effects.
But, in 2017, Debra required cardiac bypass surgery, with the doctors needing to administer an angiogram to determine the location of the heart blockage. The dye from the angiogram is unfortunately toxic to the kidney. Sure, Kaufman’s heart condition had improved due to the operation, but her kidney had failed in the process.
Currently, Kaufman has been receiving at home hemodialysis treatments four times a week since December 2017, severely altering the couple’s lives; what they can do, when they can do it, not to mention Debra’s medication requirements and dietary intake.
But Allan Kaufman has stood by his wife’s side through the trying times.
“Her life revolves around dialysis,” said Allan, who was a Yankees batboy for a day in 1967. “Is it difficult? Yes, but I don’t complain. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her.”
Kaufman said she has to consider even the simple of things to avoid the pitfalls of dialysis.
“We do it at night so I can relax after it,” Kaufman, who has also undergone two pancreatic transplants, explained. “Sometimes, it’s exhausting. Everything is a thought out process. I would love to go to Dunkin Donuts, but I can’t. I would use up my fluids for days.”
Presently, Debra is in search of a living donor kidney match. She holds onto the hope that she will someday soon find someone to save her life.
When she needs it, Kaufman leans on Allan and other family members, such as her sister, for support and levity. Plus, the good ole Yankees and Giants to bring home that elusive championship.
“It would be nice to have a winning team,” the Bronx’s Harry S Truman High School graduate quipped.
“iMoreover, Debra encourages people to get tested to see if they are a living kidney donor match. She said the recovery time for the donor is not too long (about six weeks), and there is absolutely no cost to the donor, as her insurance and Renewal work in concert to cover the expenses.
Go to Debra Kaufman’s National Kidney Registry page to learn more about her fight and to register for kidney donation. Also, contact Debra’s transplant coordinator, Miriam Lefkowitz, at R23790@Renewal.org, to learn how you can help.
— Jerry Del Priore
(Photos courtesy of the Kaufmans)