A good sister knows how to share. Whether it is clothes, shoes or jewelry, the philosophy is often “what is yours is mine.” This past summer, two sisters from Orange City brought sharing to a whole new level.
Darbi Duistermars, a senior Elementary Education major, was accustomed to dealing with migraines on and off throughout her high school years. Various doctor visits failed to provide answers for the chronic issue. The doctors were able to determine that high blood pressure could be contributing to the frequent migraines but were unable to identify where the high blood pressure originated. This past year, an explanation was finally provided.
Doctors found that Darbi’s kidneys were failing. While kidneys should be functioning at a hundred percent, hers were at four percent. Her kidneys had scarring, which was causing protein to escape without being filtered through. It was unknown how the scarring developed. Possible explanations for the scarring were a virus Darbi had when she was little, or that she was born with the scarring already present. She was given medication to help with side effects, but the only solution was a kidney transplant.
The first person Darbi turned to was her sister, Dani, a 2018 Northwestern graduate. Dani did not question at all if she would be willing to undergo the procedure and give a kidney to her sister. Doctors continued making sure that Dani knew what she was getting into and was willing to make the sacrifice. Dani never had a doubt. The sisters had to undergo various blood and trait tests in order to ensure that the two were compatible for the procedure.
The original plan was to complete the transplant after Darbi’s senior year. However, her kidney function kept getting lower, so the procedure was pushed up to Aug. 2, 2018. Darbi left her job at Inspiration Hills as a camp counselor early to prepare for the surgery.
The procedure was conducted at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn, which specializes in kidney transplants. Darbi’s surgery lasted around three and a half hours, and Dani’s was completed in only two hours.
The two both recovered smoothly. Darbi dealt with some soreness and difficulty moving, but right away there was an improvement in her appetite and energy level. Her family stayed in Rochester the following two weeks so that the doctors would be able to monitor her progress and ensure that her body was not rejecting the new kidney.
“It was really hard to see not only my co-worker but my best friend go through this surgery,” said Shania DeBoer, a friend and co-camp counselor of Darbi’s. “Darbi is a person that will go through anything with a smile on her face. She was so courageous through it all.”
A little less than two months post-procedure, Darbi is doing well. She still takes medication to ensure that the kidney continues to function properly, but her overall health has shown a significant improvement. Dani is doing well also and is currently in Dublin working with Dublin Christian Mission. The next time she will be in the states is Christmas break.
Darbi explains that the bond between her and Dani has grown even closer through the whole experience. The journey has taught her to trust God’s timing and to be patient as He reveals His will.
Monday, September 17, there is an awesome opportunity to support this family through their journey. There will be a Pizza Ranch Tip Night held by family and friends of the Duistermars. A bake sale will also be occurring. Darbi will be present, and her friends will be busing the tables. It is a great way for the Orange City community to show support for these two sisters and their family.