Need for kidney is latest challenge for Londonderry woman

Union Leader Correspondent
September 03. 2013 8:00PM

LONDONDERRY — Life hasn’t been easy for Rosemarie Meuse these past several months, but she knows it’s a life worth living.

Still mourning the unexpected death of her husband, Philip, the Londonderry resident is now facing yet another challenge — the failure of her kidneys.

Meuse, 62, suffers from Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), a genetic condition she’s battled since being diagnosed in her early 20s.

The inherited disease, which often isn’t revealed until adulthood, causes numerous cysts to form on the kidneys and, over time, can cause reduced kidney function often leading to kidney failure. About half of all PKD patients experience kidney failure, according to statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Meuse learned of her condition around the same time she and Philip got engaged.

“He knew this would one day happen,” Meuse said on Friday as she sat in her living room of the cozy home where the couple had hoped they’d spend many happy hours of retirement together.

Over the past year, Meuse’s painful condition has worsened and doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital had warned her she’d need a transplant within a year.

Philip Meuse, a Massachusetts optician and veteran of the United States Navy, had planned to donate one of his kidneys to his ailing wife, but it wasn’t to be.

On March 25, Meuse died unexpectedly — just days before he was scheduled for preliminary testing at the Boston hospital.

He was 66 years old.

“He was the love of my life,” Meuse said. “And when the time came to donate his kidney, Philip didn’t hesitate.”

Due to Meuse’s kidney condition, the couple was unable to have children, though their years together were joyous ones, filled with rewarding careers, laughter and world travels.

“Our lives were such a whirlwind,” said Meuse, who worked for Harvard Medical School for over two decades. “So we decided to retire early and enjoy our time together.”

The couple moved to the Nevins Active Adult Community from Massachusetts this past December to be closer to Meuse’s brother and father and begin the next chapter of their lives together.

As Meuse adjusts to the quiet that’s overtaken her home, she’s kept busy by focusing on the future.

So far she’s avoided dialysis, though she knows it’s only a matter of time.

Her brother, Gene, who lives across the street, suffers from the same condition though another brother, Robert, was able to donate a kidney several years ago as he’s the sole family member not suffering from PKD.

Both men are faring well following their surgeries and Meuse said she’s feeling hopeful of her own prognosis once a suitable donor is found.

“Robert came home in two days,” Meuse said, noting that the procedure for kidney donors involves a simple laparoscopic procedure that only requires a tiny incision.

Once a donor of matching blood type is found, Meuse will undergo surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the same hospital where the world’s first kidney transplant was performed.

Her insurance plan will cover 100 percent of the donor’s medical expenses and Meuse said she’d reimburse her donor for any travel costs, as well as time lost from missing work.

“They’ll be in the very best hands,” she stressed.

Anyone with general good health and without diabetes may become a kidney donor and any tests may be performed by one’s local medical center.

Those wishing to donate a kidney but aren’t found to be a suitable match for Meuse may be matched with other patients in need of a transplant.

More information on kidney donation can be obtained confidentially by contacting the Living Donor program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston at 617-732-6866.

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