BALL GROUND — A 50-year-old Ball Ground man had a bad headache last year and ended up on dialysis in need of a new kidney.
Terry Meacham said he was healthy until May 2012, when he found out he had high blood pressure.
“I was having real bad headaches, so I ended up going to CVS to one of the Minute Clinics and found out my blood pressure was 250/150, so I went to Canton ER,” Meacham said. “They admitted me there and they started dialysis, I about had my kidneys shut down the day after I went in. … Before that I was healthy as a horse.”
Meacham has lived in Ball Ground since the mid-1970s, and said he’s hoping to find someone who will participate in the Piedmont Healthcare Living Kidney Donor program to help him find a donor.
“If I can get someone to donate a kidney, they don’t even need to be a match to me,” Meacham said. “They donate their kidney and then they automatically start searching in the national register for a match for me.”
Otherwise, he may have to wait up to four years to find a donor.
Meacham considers himself lucky to have Medicare and Medicaid to help pay for the cost of his tri-weekly dialysis.
“I’ve been on dialysis since May of last year, I think I go three days a week, four hours a day,” Meacham said.
Meacham said he has good days and bad days, and said his life has changed a lot since dialysis wears out his body.
“If I don’t get a kidney I’ll be on dialysis the rest of my life,” Meacham said. “If I get a kidney it’s just a matter of having the surgery, then you have recovery, then I have to take medications my whole life.”
The Living Kidney Donor program estimates at least three to five years of waiting time for people on the kidney transplant list, and noted that many people die from diseases before a kidney becomes available.
“I can’t work or anything,” Meacham said. “Some days I’m so weak when I get home I just can’t do anything, it’s changed my life, I can’t go swimming or boating or hiking. … It changes your world upside down, that’s for sure.”
Meacham has a website set up through the Georgia Transplant Foundation, where people can make contributions for the cost of after-transplant medications, which typically run from $20,600 to $32,900 a year after insurance, according to the foundation.
“My father died a month or two before I went into the hospital,” Meacham said. “I had to make all the funeral arrangements, and I think that stress, it might have pushed me over the edge.”
To read more about Meacham’s story or to make a contribution, visit Client.gatransplant.org/client/tameacham.