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Transplant patient created a quarantine schedule, practicing due diligence

IU Health University Hospital

Transplant patient created a quarantine schedule, practicing due diligence

She has had two kidney transplants and she knows with a compromised immune system, she must do everything she can to protect her health.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes,

A month ago, Joy Araujo was planning to knock another trip off her “bucket list.” She was booked and ready to head to Las Vegas. But plans changed almost overnight. And long before Indiana’s Governor issued a “stay at home” order, Araujo was already practicing social distancing.

“I’ve always been a hand washer and hand sanitizer. I’ve always avoided sick people but now I’m not going out at all. I’m vulnerable,” said Araujo who turned 32 on March 9.

It’s an adjustment for someone who has been knocking things off her bucket list since she received her second kidney transplant July 31, 2017.

Imagine these accomplishments: Araujo is a former pageant contestant who has traveled to numerous competitions around the country. She founded the Donor Appreciation Network celebrating living kidney donors. Last year she completed a degree in Biblical Studies from Anderson University. In the past year she and her boyfriend David Kau attended the National Kidney Foundation Indiana Gala, she made an appearance at the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women event, volunteered with Make a Wish, and created a fundraiser for the Humane Society. They also checked another adventure off Araujo’s bucket list when she and Kau traveled to Hawaii.

“David was born and raised in Hawaii. After my second transplant I wanted to go to Hawaii to a Paradise Cove Luau. A year and half later I was on a plane and I remember thinking ‘this is how God performs miracles,’” said Araujo. While they were in Hawaii Kau bought Araujo a ukulele and she began teaching herself to play the instrument and write songs.

On her March birthday Araujo wrote: “March is National Kidney Month and I am so grateful for my kidney transplant allowing me to be here. It is a privilege to get a second chance at life. . . brought to you by the wonderful transplant team at IU Health.”

At the age of ten, Araujo was diagnosed with Nephrotic Syndrome, a kidney disease that leads to large amounts of protein lost in the urine. For six years she was treated with rounds of steroids to try to “shock” her kidneys into working. Eventually doctors told her she would need either dialysis or a transplant. Araujo received her first transplant at the age of 17. After eight years her body began to slowly reject the kidney. By the age of 25 she was on dialysis and waiting for a second transplant.

Under the care of Dr. William Goggins, she received a second transplant in July of 2017. Two years later she was making public appearances – as a spokesperson for World Kidney Day, traveling, and working out regularly. She often posts uplifting videos of her workout routines, and songs she writes and accompanies on her ukulele.

As the world began restricting activity due to the Coronavirus, Araujo began preparing for the weeks ahead. One of the first things she did was send an email to her transplant coordinator Janel Lee. Araujo wanted to weigh in with her nephrologist Dr. Tim Taber about her upcoming trip to Las Vegas.

“The advice was to refrain from any non essential travel so I’m staying put,” said Araujo. All IU Health transplant patients received a comprehensive list of recommendations from Dr. Nicolas Barros Baertl, of IU Health’s Infectious Disease and Transplant teams that included:

  • Postpone all non-essential travel and encourage household members to do the same 

  • Minimize exposures in public and avoid crowded environments 

  • Minimize close contact with people (6 feet or more) 

  • No handshaking 

  • Cough or sneeze into tissue or elbow, dispose of tissue in trash can immediately and wash hands 

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds 

  • Avoid touching face 

  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces often (TV remote controls, light switches, cell phones, etc.) 

  • Increase ventilation in household by opening windows (if feasible) 

  • Work from home (if feasible) 

  • Avoid sick people at home and in public 

  • If a household member is infected with the COVID-19, the infected person and transplant recipient should wear a simple 
surgical/dust mask and closely follow all of the above. If feasible, alternative accommodations may need to be considered for the transplant recipient while a household member is ill or the ill person should stay in one room with one caregiver to reduce contact with transplant recipient. 
Following the recommendations above are crucial to minimize exposure and spread of the COVID-19 among transplant patients and the general population. 

The same guidelines apply to transplant candidates on a waitlist.

Read more: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Update for Transplant Patients

Araujo made other preparations too. She purchased a new amp for her ukulele, stocked up on groceries and began creating a daily schedule. She practices her ukulele for an hour, reads, brushes up on math skills, and works out.

“My advice to others who are immunocompromised is don’t leave the house. Play it extra safe,” said Araujo. “I know it’s frustrating but keep moving toward your goals. If you want to get fit then modify your routine. If you want to learn a new skill then learn it from the safety of your home. I plan on emerging from this crisis smarter and more fit.”