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The federal government will pay more than $100,000 to give someone a kidney transplant, but after three years, the government will often stop paying for the drugs needed to keep that transplanted kidney alive.

 

Constance Creasey is one of the thousands of people who find themselves caught up by this peculiar feature of the federal kidney program.

 

Creasey started kidney dialysis about 12 years ago after her kidneys failed. That meant going to a dialysis center three times a week, for three hours per session. (A typical patient undergoes 3 to 5 hours of dialysis per session).

 

“The first three years of dialysis was hard. I walked around with this dark cloud. I didn’t want to live, I really didn’t,” she says.

 

Being dependent on these blood-cleansing machines was physically and emotionally draining. But she stuck it out for 11 years. Medicare pays for dialysis, even for people under the age of 65. It also pays for kidney transplants for people with end-stage renal disease.

 

“Finally, a year and a half ago, transplant came. I was a little apprehensive but I said OK. And I call her Sleeping Beauty, that’s my kidney’s name.”

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NPR: Shots

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