Stayin’ alive

A kidney dialysis/transplant diary

Give Jenna a boost

We received the following press release at work last week. Thought I’d let you read it here so you can take the opportunity to add to Jenna’s vote total.

DaVita Inc, a large nation-wide Dialysis company, is sponsoring a “Kidney Dialysis Idol” Contest in the United States.  Applicants had to satisfy all the eligibility criteria of the sponsor and submit an essay stating why he/she should be the Kidney Dialysis Idol. On November 13, a panel of judges, announced four finalists out of 2,000 submissions, and Jenna Smith, from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinic, is one of them.

One winner, among the four finalists, will be chosen by popular on-line voting. The winner will get to go on a cruise to either the Caribbean or Alaska. Jenna would love to go to Alaska.  Anyone can vote.  To vote you need to go to

 That site will include information about the four contestants, including Jenna.

What to do: Vote for Jenna as your favorite Kidney Idol (nominated obviously because she has a kidney problem which requires her to go through three hours of dialysis treatment 6 days/week)

When: Vote once EVERY DAY from Dec. 3rd – Dec. 10th

Who: Jenna


Vote for Jenna Smith to become the DaVitaInc. “Kidney Dialysis Idol” of 2007 By Victoria Lim

Jenna grew up in our Pediatric Kidney Unit. She started dialysis at age 7 because her kidneys were destroyed by an autoimmune process. Her father, Dr. Richard Smith, the Sterba Research Professor and vice chair of the Department of Otolaryngology at the College of Medicine here in Iowa City, gave her one of his kidneys when Jenna was 15 years old. Unfortunately, the original kidney disease recurred despite aggressive treatment; she lost the transplant soon and returned to dialysis. I started taking care of her at that point when her health was abysmal and precarious and she was devastated and emaciated. It was, in part, due to her sheer determination and the unwavering support of her family that she steadily improved. Today she is a confident senior in the College of Engineering at the University of Iowa.

For her kidney failure, Jenna needs kidney dialysis. During each treatment, two large needles are inserted into her arm (she does this herself most of the time); one to pump the blood out to the machine and the other, for returning the cleansed blood back to her. Her fluid intake is limited and food choices, restricted in many ways. Needle sticking hurts, but she quickly learned to bear the pain because the alternative is unacceptable. Time spent on dialysis is long, six times a week and three hours each session, but she and her family have ingeniously integrated dialysis, unwelcome as it is, into their lives. Currently, Jenna takes a full academic load and participates in extra-curricular activities. I would be remiss if I do not mention the family. Her dad, Richard Smith is known to most people as a renowned researcher and an expert clinician. To me he is, additionally, a most wonderful father. He stayed in the hospital room with Jenna, day and night, when she was very ill. I had felt his worries and have been moved by his tender care of his daughter. Lynne Smith, her mother, a nurse and a lawyer by education, abandoned her career opportunity to willingly and cheerfully become the long-term caregiver. Jenna’s twin sister and her two brothers also have their shares of chores in caring for her. It is truly a family affair. I do not think Jenna or the Smith family are particularly stoic because they do feel the pain. They are not oblivious to the seriousness of her illness, yet they seem to possess enormous inner strength and serenity to maintain some sense of pleasantness for themselves and their families. They do not dwell on what they have lost, but learn to count the blessings of what they have.

In Jenna, I see the resiliency of the human body and the unyielding strength of the human spirit. She and her family taught me that life, despite many imperfections, has a lot to celebrate. The Iowa City and the University community would be wise to use her as a spokesperson, especially for children and adolescents facing serious diseases. Jenna could inspire and motivate them, tell them that the pursuit of life, career and happiness is possible despite illnesses.

 Additional Information:

Jenna’s contribution to the Nephrology community is immense.

  • The Smith’s Family Foundation “Kidneeds” is well-known, not just among families with members having MPGN II, but also within the scientific community. Their discovery of the indolent of factor H, a component of the complement cascade, in the pathogenesis of MPGN is very important and was recently published in the renowned Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. Jenna participated in this research as part of her extracurricular activities.
  • Jenna is intimately involved in Kidneeds which sponsors many activities including the fabulous Annual Chili-Dog Fair, an event attended and enjoyed by the entire community in Iowa City.
  • Jenna’s necklaces and bracelets are so beautiful and they are being sold at the one of the upscale prestigious jewelry store in Iowa City, Hands Jewelers.  All the money goes to kidney research.

Jenna and Jessica started a little company called TwinCardInc that makes greeting cards.  The cards are animated and lovely; all the money goes to kidney research.


December 3, 2007 - Posted by | diabetes, dialysis, health, kidney, transplant

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