Oklahoma woman says kidney transplant in danger after she beat cancer

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ADA, Okla. – An Oklahoma woman says she is fighting a battle against her own body and is hoping for the best.

Ten years ago, Melissa Morgan learned that she would need a kidney transplant and her mother stepped up to give her the gift of life again. After receiving her mother’s kidney, she began taking immunosuppressant medicine so that her body wouldn’t reject the organ.

“(The medicine) keeps my immune system low enough (so it won’t) attack my donated kidney,” Morgan said. “When your immune system is low, not only does it not attack your transplant, it also doesn’t recognize cancer cells.”

In November of 2015, Morgan knew something wasn’t right. She was suffering from chronic fatigue, but her blood tests seemed normal.

Several months later, Morgan, a teacher at Roff Elementary School, gave a book collection to a student. The student jumped into her arms and gave her a big hug, which triggered a pain in her chest.

“That afternoon, I performed a self-examination and found a hard marble-shaped lump,” Morgan said.

Even after undergoing a mammogram, doctors did not believe that the lump was cancer. However, Morgan insisted on having it removed.

When she awoke after surgery and saw her husband, she knew that she had cancer.

Melissa Morgan with husband, Scott and their son, Garrett.

After undergoing chemotherapy and another surgery, doctors say the cancer is now gone. However, she was dealt another blow.

Morgan was told that the cancer treatments damaged her transplanted kidney.

“Cancer took one of the greatest gifts I have ever received,” she said. “It broke my heart the day I found out I would no longer have my mom’s kidney. I took great pride in owning my transplant. I knew the average transplant lasts 15 years, but I was so blessed to have it that I thought it would last forever.”

Doctors say the donated kidney may last another year or two before it fails.

“I have never been good at being a patient. I know kidney failure is coming, I just don’t know when. Since I have already experienced kidney failure, I know what type of pain awaits me. Each month, I feel the onset of another symptom and wonder if I’m going to have the strength to endure another battle,” she said.

While waiting to see what is in store for her, Morgan says she is working out with her father at the Chickasaw Nation Wellness Center three days a week.

“I have always been afraid of losing. However, it is not the outcome of a battle that defines you. It’s what you do and who you turn to when you are held to the flame that defines who you really are,” Morgan said. “The day I gave everything to God was the day I quit equating my life to a game of wins and losses. I was missing out on so much because I was afraid to lose.”

Melissa Morgan and her dad, Buddy Tartsah and her son, Garrett, at the Chickasaw Nation Wellness Center, Ada.

“When adversity comes my way, I slow down, ask for God’s battle plan, then show up and give it all I have got. It doesn’t make it easy, but it makes it possible,” she added.

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