Kidney Disorder Doesn't Slow Down This UI Student
Posted By: Misty Christner (email)
Date: 6/19/2018 at 12:40:06
Source: The Daily Iowan
Kidney disorder doesn't slow down this UI student
By Michelle Brooks
The Daily Iowan
Jenna Smith is a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority.
She plays piano.
She plays tennis.
She has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity.
And all of her life, she has had to deal with a rare kidney disorder that has led to a failed transplant and years of hospital visits.
Because of her positive outlook on life, Smith, 19, was recently named the recipient of the "Spirit of Service" award by the American Association of Kidney Patients. She and her father will travel to Las Vegas this weekend to accept the award at the group's 32nd-annual convention.
"Despite kidney disease and illness, you can still have a life," said UI internal-medicine Professor Victoria Lim, who nominated Smith for the award.
She was born with membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis type 2, a rare disease that prevents the kidneys from properly ejecting wasted from the blood.
Five years ago, her father donated a kidney for transplant. But a month and a half later, Smith's body began to reject the kidney.
A year and half later, the kidney failed.
Following the transplant, she began hemodialysis, a process that clears waste from the blood, eliminates extra fluid from the body, and restores proper balance of electrolytes in the blood.
She goes through this treatment six times a week.
"She is very courageous," Lim said. She described the cheerful college student as "the perfect candidate" for the award. "I am very happy for her. I like to see her laugh and smile."
The medical obstacles haven't stopped Smith from living her life to the fullest.
On top of an extended list of honors, including one for four years of service on the UI Hospitals and Clinics Youth Advisory Council, she has made numerous contributions to the community.
The Iowa City native's situation has inspired her to raise money through various fundraisers and donate profits to Kindneeds, a research foundation for her disease.
Smith co-founded Jensica Jewels in 2002, a business that makes and sells handmade jewelry, which has so far made $20,000 in donations. Smith and her twin sister, Jessica, sell it at Hands Jewelers, 109 E Washington St., with profits donated to Kidneeds.
She is also a co-founder of a greeting card business called Twindkardine, which started in 1998. The greeting cards, which Smith and her sister also design, have donated $13,000 to Kidneeds.
"The family is amazing," Lim said. "They encourage her to do all she can do."
Smith said her family has supported her through the doctor visits and the fundraising. The members are always behind her - whether by helping her buy supplies for fundraisers or by talking to doctors and helping her make decisions.
"They've been really supportive through everything my whole life," the art and pre-med major said. "Every step of the way, they are there."
But there's one more thing Smith needs to accomplish.
"To one day have a successful transplant," she said.
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