I was first diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) in August 2002 at the age of forty-two. Since 2002, I have spent a total of six years on either hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis. My first kidney transplant surgery took place at Lankenau Hospital in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania on September 17, 2003. My sister Linda Woodson Igus gave me the Gift of Life when, without any notice, she announced to the family, "Tracy can have my kidney” and donated a kidney to me. My second kidney transplant surgery (deceased donor) took place on September 7, 2016 at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware after four and one half years of dialysis treatment.
In addition to my own challenges with kidney failure, dialysis treatment and kidney transplant surgery, I have several family members who have also experienced the same. In 1993, one of my younger female siblings donated a kidney to another female sibling after enduring almost a decade of dialysis treatment and waiting for the call. Additionally, two nephews also have experienced kidney failure, dialysis and a kidney transplant. One nephew received the gift of life from his wife and the other is still waiting for his transplant and remains on dialysis. In the meantime, he is working full time in a dialysis center as a technician. Since 2002 I chose to work full time as first a classroom teacher, a high school assistant principal, middle school assistant principal and now middle school principal. The support I received from friends and co-workers kept me alive. I shared my journey including my ups and my downs. Along the way, I spoke to coworkers about my dialysis treatments, and how they could tell the signs of kidney failure. I talked about what to look for in their own urine and what questions to ask when they visited their physicians during their annual physical. Knowing I was helping friends and coworkers gave me a purpose; especially on days when I did not think, I was going to live.
When I found Dialysis Patient Citizens I found an organization that offers me the opportunity to advocate for and give back to the hundreds of thousands if not millions of men and women, who like me had to endure the many hours of life-saving dialysis treatment. I want to make certain that everything that can be done or explored is considered. I felt extremely empowered when I spoke to my legislators. I know I can make a difference for others and I will continue to do all that I can.
I am blessed to be married to my wife Brenda and together we have two children; Vernon Anthony Woodson, our daughter Sydney Morgan Woodson, daughter-in-law Nadia Woodson and our grandson Christopher Antonio Woodson. I have six sisters and two brothers. I have earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Technology from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Delaware and my Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership from Wilmington University. In addition to my full-time position as Principal, Springer Middle School in the Brandywine School District, I currently serve on the Board of Henrietta Johnson Medical Center. Delaware Governor John Carney honored me in May 2019 when he selected me to sit on the state Organ Donor and Tissue Awareness Board. I serve as an Independent Consumer Advocate Manager for ESCO (ESRD Seamless Care Organization), and I am a Gift of Life organization Ambassador. As a Gift of Life Ambassador, I get to speak and tell my story about dialysis treatment and transplant surgery to high school students and every day fellow citizens about the importance of becoming an organ and tissue donor.