Miami — Linda Fluker, a hospital unit secretary at Jackson Memorial Hospital, is used to caring for others, including her daughter and ailing parents. She also made it a priority to take care of her own health, after being diagnosed with diabetes at age 20. After being off insulin for two years, Fluker learned in September 2010 that her kidneys were functioning at only 14 percent due to hypertension. Doctors told her she needed a kidney transplant to survive.
When Monique Fluker learned that her mother needed a transplant she immediately volunteered to be tested to see if she was a match. Distance seemed to be an obstacle, however, as Linda Fluker lives in Miami and her daughter in College Park, Ga., an Atlanta suburb.
But Monique was determined to help. That November, she traveled to Miami for testing. Doctors told her that she must lose 20 pounds before she would be allowed to donate her kidney — and she had just over a month to make it happen.
"I wanted to cry and I couldn’t imagine how I was going to lose 20 pounds in a month,” said Monique. “My mom said it would be OK if I wanted to change my mind about donating, but I was adamant that I wanted to do it. I went back home determined to lose 20 pounds. It was extremely hard during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, but every day, I walked and ran. No matter how cold, or how much it rained, I went outside to exercise. It was the hardest month of my life and I cried more than I ever have. I was determined that I would lose that 20 pounds.”
Doctors and nurses were astonished when, 38 days later, on December 27, Monique returned 21 pounds lighter.
“I was so proud of myself. I was one step closer to giving my mother her life back,” Monique said.
Over the next few months, Monique traveled to Miami four times for tissue typing, blood type testing, echocardiogram, KUB (examination of kidney) and upper body CT scan.
The owner of the company where she works, Infomart Inc., was so moved by what Monique was doing, a new policy was created to give 30 paid days off to any employee undergoing a life-saving procedure.
“It made me realize my situation opened the door for others so they would not have to worry about finances during a difficult time,” said Monique. “When the day of surgery finally arrived, I felt a sense of peace. I knew my mother would be rewarded for taking care of her parents and giving so much to so many others. I had no doubt that we would survive because we were in the hands of a great staff of nurses and doctors.”
On March 3, Monique underwent a laparoscopic surgery at Jackson Memorial Hospital to remove her kidney and donate it to her mother. The surgery lasted six hours. Monique was discharged from the hospital on March 5, and her mother was released three days later. The surgery was a success and Linda Fluker’s new kidney began working immediately.
“Now, six months later, to see my mom doing great and looking strong makes me happy. I did that! I’m thankful I was able to give back to her. She’s given so much to me since the day I was born,” Monique said. “I thank God that He gave me the opportunity to give to her.”
Photo: COURTESY OF JACKSON HEALTH SYSTEM