Wisconsin woman living a healthy life after four kidney transplants

A Middleton woman is living a healthy life after 50 years of battling kidney diseases.
Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 10:01 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 10, 2022 at 10:29 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A Middleton woman is living a healthy life after 50 years of battling kidney diseases.

Mary Baliker is on kidney transplant number four and has been contending with kidney problems since the age of nine.

“So they finally sent me to the children’s hospital in madison and diagnosed me with kidney disease, at that time though, they didn’t really dialyze children, and they didn’t really transplant them, it was back in the early 70′s so I’m fortunate to be here today,” said Baliker.

Her first kidney transplant came from her brother, but it, unfortunately, did not last.

“I got the reoccurring kidney disease, so I needed another transplant after four years,” said Baliker. “It’s not uncommon to have reoccurrence of disease or to have rejections or infections that damage the kidneys.”

But her fourth transplant has held up for 22 years. She says all the extended stays in hospitals and returns to the kidney wait-list would not have been manageable without her family, friends, and hospital staff support system.

“I had a great support system, also, having my healthcare team was a really big part of helping me get through those tough times,” said Baliker.

Baliker receiving dialyzes treatment.
Baliker receiving dialyzes treatment.(Colton Molesky)

But she says her most formidable task has come in the past two years. As a transplant patient, Baliker needs to be extra cautious through the pandemic, staying away from everyone to avoid the virus.

“Having to isolate, I think that was really hard, and I’ll be honest, I haven’t been to a grocery store in two and a half years,” said Baliker.

Despite the challenges, she says she is always “grateful to be alive” and is living an active life of biking, dog-walking, and hiking.

Her time in hospitals also inspired her to take on a career in healthcare, where she is now a health care consultant for transplant patients. Her experiences give her a unique chance to guide people through the challenges of transplants.

“I really still felt fortunate that I was able to do the things that I could,” said Baliker.

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