Dialysis facility, patient celebrate 30 years of successful treatments

August 23, 2016

Salinan Angelica Merrell remembers moving to Salina in 1986 and living out of her Chevy Camaro with her daughter Karina Reinert while dealing with a failing kidney.

Merrell and Reinert had made the journey to Salina seeking kidney treatment for Merrell.

“When I was first being born, my mom had symptoms of kidney failure during my birth, and the doctors and my dad wanted to abort the pregnancy,” Reinert said. “My mom just got up and walked out of the hospital.”

Shortly after arriving in Salina, after living on the Fort Riley base, Merrell, now 72, began kidney treatments — beginning with a kidney transplant — at Fresenius Medical Care under the direction of Dr. Brad Stuewe.

It was Stuewe “who found us in that rest area living out of our car. It was him who found a place for us to live and, within a few days, had me and my brother enrolled in school,” Reinert said.

That was 30 years ago. On Monday, Fresenius celebrated how far Merrell has come with her kidney treatments by throwing her a party. She was presented with cupcakes, balloons, cards and a T-shirt from the staff at the medical facility.

Every possible treatment

Since coming to Salina, Merrell has undergone every possible treatment for kidney failure due to hypertension — peritoneal dialysis, where a catheter is placed in the abdomen to fill and drain the peritoneal cavity with a special dialysis called dialysate, hemodialysis where the blood is cleaned outside of the body by a filter called a dialyzer or “artificial kidney” and a kidney transplant.

While recovering from her kidney transplant, Merrell was still able “to look after her grandchildren, work nights at College Park Nursing Home and take classes to be a registered nurse at Kansas Wesleyan University,” Reinert said.

“Angelica has always been a trouper and, although she never eats enough meats, she has been through lots and lots of issues,” Stuewe said. “I feel like I know the family, and it’s been a long time working with Angelica. The toughest part, at first, was getting everything to happen with getting her a home, taking care of her treatments — just everything we had to do to make sure she was taken care of.”

Family woman

Despite going through tough times and adversity, Merrell raised five children — four sons, Frank, Paul, Fred and Phillip Merrell, and Reinert.

Reinert works as the retail supervisor at Central National Bank and Phillip lives in Chicago but works out of a Philadelphia office as the vice president of AmeriHealth Caritas.

“I’ve always said that Dr. Stuewe and his staff saved our lives,” Reinert said. “They took us off the street, helped us get on our feet and gave us an opportunity when no one else had. Today, my mom has five great children who are all doing well, and it’s because of her strong will, sacrifices and determination.”

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