20150601_144955I’m a San Diego native and have been a resident of San Diego’s east county since 1981, the year I married Stacy. We have eight adult children and 11 grandchildren.

We have attended Community Covenant Church in El Cajon for over 30 years, and are longtime volunteers.

I’ve worked since 2006 as Internet Marketing Manager at Graphic Business Solutions in El Cajon and am a member of the East County Chamber of Commerce.

Stacy and I have grown plumerias for over 25 years – the flower of the Hawaiian lei. I coordinate public relations for the Southern California Plumeria Society and have spoken to groups all over the country with growing tips.

I was diagnosed January 2014 with IGA Nephropathy, an autoimmune disease that attacks the kidneys. I was given the standard, brutal steroid therapy for 6 months, which only slowed the disease but didn’t reset it like my doctors hoped it would. So it came back with a vengeance and my nephrologist (kidney doctor) starting uttering the “T” word.

As my kidneys reached failure the next spring, I felt what the process of dying was like, and I didn’t like it. I started dialysis in March, which helped but brought its own list of complications and issues.

Early June I was approved for the transplant list and was speedlisted because so many factors were perfect.

When I first brought up the need for a transplant to my friends and family, Emory Fuqua was the first to volunteer. In 2003 Mike’s son and Emory’s boyfriend at the time deployed with the Marines to Iraq and we met in an online family support group. Not long after that she was hanging out with my family most days, going on family trips, and became an honorary Atkinson – a cherished “adopted” daughter. She later moved to northern California, but she and the Atkinsons stayed in touch.

Emory wasn’t a perfect match for me, so we were referred to the incredible paired donor exchange program. She donated her kidney to Laura in Colorado, so I could get the kidney I need.

That transplant happened on December 29, 2015 with Glenn Millar’s kidney. The transplant was performed by the amazing team at Scripps Green Hospital La Jolla. All went great and Mike is recovering very well.

Read this interview with Mike about his health journey in San Diego’s Refreshed Magazine:
Waiting for a transplant | Father of eight undeterred by battle with kidney disease

Also read Emory’s blog on her kidney donation process.

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