EASTON — Since his kidney donation in March, Master Pfc. Lenox Trams, of the Easton Police Department, said he’s feeling well and is working on starting a support group for people with kidney disease.
Trams, who grew up in Kent County, said he feels “like a million bucks” since he received a living kidney donation March 18 from his co-worker, Jill Garvey, a management assistant with the Easton Police Department.
“I was sick before, but I didn’t realize it until after I got the kidney,” Trams said. “I think I’m more alert and I appreciate things a lot more now than I did before.”
He said although he does have to take medication to help the new kidney bond with his body, he does not have to continue dialysis treatments, which he was on for five months, starting in November 2015.
“Dialysis takes a lot out of you,” Trams said. “It takes a lot out of your body and your mindset.”
Trams said he plans to be an advocate for people battling kidney disease and is trying to start a support group. He said the support group also will be for people who are considering becoming a living donor for people with kidney disease.
“I just feel like I got so lucky that I need to be an advocate for (those with) kidney disease,” Trams said. “I just really feel like, after what’s happened to me, and I was very blessed, that I need to pass it on.”
He said he is looking for suggestions from people who have started support groups, help coordinating meetings and a location for the group to meet. He said he already has been contacted by several people who have received kidney donations and want to help get the support group up and running.
Trams said his goal is to help explain kidney disease to people who have been diagnosed, to help explain the donation process to people seeking a donation or those who will be receiving a donation, to help explain the process for people who are considering donating a kidney and to give hope to people who have been battling kidney disease and have been on dialysis for a prolonged period of time.
“I just really hope to bring some kind of light to people,” Trams said. “I’m very positive and I got down in the dumps myself (when on dialysis), so I can’t imagine somebody who’s been on it two, three, four, five years. ... So hopefully, if people can come to the support group and share their experience with somebody, it will just give them a new perspective.”
Trams said his initial recovery process was not easy, but he is getting better every day. While in recovery, he said, he even was able to take a vacation to California for a week, which included a lot of hiking. Vacations were luxuries he never would have been able to take part in while on emergency dialysis treatments, he said.
“It was the first time I’ve really ventured off, because while I was on dialysis, I really couldn’t go anywhere because (dialysis treatments were) three times a week, four hours a day,” Trams said. “So I missed out on a lot of stuff ... It’s a great feeling just to be able to get away.”
Trams said he is focused getting back to work, which he said will be in the beginning of July, as well as restarting his exercise routines and staying healthy.
“Even though I feel like I can go to work now, the body is still healing. It’s hard for me to listen to the doctors because I just want to hit the street running,” Trams said. “I’m still the same guy that I was before — you know, ‘Officer Friendly’ — I just have a new outlook on life.”
Garvey said she feels good, as well. She said she was out of work, recovering, for five weeks but has returned to the police department. Her next move will be planning a family trip to Australia with her boyfriend and her daughter, she said.
Trams and Garvey’s brother’s girlfriend helped start a GoFundMe page to raise money for the upcoming trip and surprised her after she woke up from surgery, Trams said. Garvey said she hopes to be able to take the trip next year.
“Australia has been my dream vacation since I can remember,” Garvey said.
Garvey said the support from the Easton Police Department, the community and the University of Maryland Medical Center, especially Trish Rosenberry, Shore Regional Health’s regional director of specialty clinics in Easton, has been amazing.
Garvey and Trams said Rosenberry helped coordinate the kidney donation and helped them every step of the way during the donation process.
Trams has been with the Easton Police Department for the past 17 years. He said he was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2002, at the age of 27, and on Nov. 4, 2015, he was told he was in end-stage renal failure.
He was placed on the kidney transplant registry and for the next five months underwent emergency dialysis treatments for four hours a day, three days a week. Through it all, he still could be found on bike patrol for the department, up until his March surgery.
In December 2015, Trams’ kidneys were functioning at about 3 percent and had been through tests with two potential kidney donors, who also were members of the Easton Police Department; Detective Sgt. George Paugh, who has worked with Trams for the past 17 years, and Pfc. Howard Maxwell, who has worked with Trams for the past 13 years.
Paugh and Maxwell both were disqualified from donating their kidneys to Trams because of potential future complications that may be exacerbated by only having one kidney.
Trams said Garvey may be saving him from having to undergo multiple kidney transplants throughout his life, because a living kidney donation may last for 30 to 40 years, whereas a cadaver donation may last only five to 10 years.
Additionally, if Garvey has complications from having only one kidney, she will be placed at the top of the donation list for a kidney transplant, Trams said.
Trams said besides a quick pulse, he never felt any symptoms marking his transition into end-stage renal failure. He said doctors told him he would feel sluggish when his kidney function dropped below 10 percent, but he never did.
“That is why kidney disease is called the silent killer, because most people don’t realize they’re sick until they are ... in end stage renal failure,” Trams said in March. “I never really felt sick, and that was what was so scary.”
Trams said he has eight years left with the Easton Police Department and plans to finish out his career there.