One look at John Roger Roberts would provide no indication of what he has gone through. At the young age of 28, you can find him in the building at his dad’s car dealership – John Roberts Toyota – putting in about 60 hours a week as a sales manager and loving every minute of it. And, as he put it, he spends all of those minutes showing everyone the benefits of the many prayers that so many said for him.
John is three months removed from a kidney transplant, a procedure that ended nearly two years of grueling dialysis and a period of uncertainty that helped bring his family and friends together around him. “My brothers and my dad were riding four-wheelers on a Sunday in August (2013),” explained John, his memory vivid as every detail is spoken with precision. “I decided I would get a four-wheeler so I could ride. We had fun and had no problems. The next morning when I woke up, my eyes, they were blurry. It was like I needed glasses overnight.” John’s eyes weren’t focusing. His vision had always been 20-20 and at the young age of 26, the problem wasn’t immediate for John or his parents. “My parents said maybe I got some dust in my eyes riding four-wheelers or something and maybe I just needed some drops,” explained John. Drops did not help John’s blurry vision. And a second trip to an optometrist over a week later uncovered a disturbing and scary revelation. “The eye doctor told me to come in and get my eyes checked, that something just didn’t sound right,” recalled John. “He went all the way to the strongest [prescription] he had and my eyes still weren’t able to focus.” Dr. Jimmy Blanks with Eye Care Associates of Tullahoma decided to check John’s blood pressure. “It was 252 over 152,” John said, laughing at the number now. “I was like, ‘is that bad?’ “He said you need to get someone here to take you to the hospital. So I [arranged transportation] and then called my dad (John Roberts), who was in Illinois at a trap-shooting event. I told him what my blood pressure was and he just got quiet. And I could hear him kind of gulp in the background. Then, really calm, he told me to just do what the doctor says, get to the hospital and we will figure it out. Then he drove a seven hour trip back home and I think he drove it in about six hours. My whole family kind of just showed up [at the hospital in Murfreesboro.]” A series of tests and a biopsy of John’s kidney’s revealed that he was suffering from IgA nephropathy. His kidneys were only working between 7-10 percent. “I never had any major signs that anything was wrong until my blood pressure did that,” explained John. IgA nephropathy, which is also commonly known as Berger’s disease, is a kidney disease that occurs when an antibody called immunoglobulin A lodges in the kidneys. The result is local inflammation that, over time, may hamper the kidneys’ ability to filter waste, excess water and electrolytes from the blood. One of the signs is high blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website. “The doctors said that the sudden trauma from the shaking on the four-wheeler just woke up my body. They said I probably had it since I was five or ten.” Dialysis With John’s kidney function low and no cure for IgA nephropathy, he was put on a donor list and immediately began hemodialysis to help cleanse his blood. Hemodialysis treatment takes blood from the body and through a set of tubes to a filter and the cleansed blood is returned to the body through another set of tubes. “I lost about 40 pounds,” …… Continue reading this full story in this week’s print edition of the Manchester Times. Click here to subscribe to the print and/or full digital edition of the paper.