Alyssa’s Story

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Alyssa and her husband Richard tried unsuccessfully to have a second child for years. What they assumed was infertility, turned out to be different—and even more complicated. Alyssa’s kidneys were functioning at only fifteen percent. With no prior diagnosis and no apparent symptoms, Alyssa was in complete shock when she learned she was living with Stage 4 kidney disease.

“After hearing about my diagnosis, my life changed a lot,” she said.

Her days immediately went from walks in the park with her family and reading books to her young daughter Bella, to doctor visits and six hours a day, six days a week in the dialysis center. Richard quickly became Alyssa’s caregiver, and they put everything on hold to focus on her health.

Then, just months after receiving her diagnosis and starting treatment, Alyssa found out she was pregnant. “My doctor explained to me that because of my treatment, it would be nearly impossible for me to get pregnant.” The news brought a mix of emotions.

“We were excited, of course, because we wanted another baby for so long. At the same time, I knew how scary and risky it was being pregnant on dialysis.”

As her kidney disease and her pregnancy progressed, she became extremely fatigued. She developed hypertension, which sapped her energy and made it hard for her to catch her breath. She got winded doing everyday activities like walking. Cooking became a major challenge. That’s when Alyssa’s social worker told her she could apply for Project Angel Heart meals.

Project Angel Heart recently expanded its home-delivered medically tailored meal program to serve women experiencing high-risk pregnancy.  As a result, Alyssa received meals made specially for her dietary needs—meals lower in phosphorus and potassium—while she was pregnant, and even after her delivery.

“I wanted to be able to cook healthy meals but being visually impaired and a pregnant mama on dialysis, that was really hard,” said Alyssa. “When I found out I was going to get meals delivered to my door every week, it felt like a huge weight lifted off of me, especially when they told me I could also get meals for my daughter.”

This support would soon become even more important…

During Alyssa’s second trimester, she developed the life-threatening HELLP Syndrome, a variant of preeclampsia, that causes problems with the liver, bleeding, and even more challenges with blood pressure. At just 26 weeks, doctors performed an emergency cesarean section on Alyssa to deliver her son, Noah.

Spending as much time as possible with her son in the NICU, breastfeeding, and continuing to receive dialysis, Alyssa needs her energy for herself and her baby.

Alyssa and her husband Richard with their son Noah at the NICU

“We spend almost all day at the hospital now, so it’s very helpful when we come home, and we can just pull a healthy meal out of the freezer, heat it up, and it’s ready. It keeps me going and I’m grateful,” she said.

A surprising bonus? Alyssa’s four-year-old daughter has developed a love for carrots and enjoys eating vegetables now, thanks to her Project Angel Heart meals. “Bella literally goes through the freezer, picks out a meal with carrots, and asks me to make it for her,” Alyssa said with a smile.

Alyssa, Richard, and Bella look forward to the day they bring Noah home from the NICU. “He’s getting bigger and stronger by the day,” Alyssa said with a smile, instinctively putting her hand on her heart.

Heart to Heart for Moms

You can help more moms like Alyssa. Through our Heart to Heart for Moms campaign, our goal is to deliver more than 4,000 medically tailored meals to moms experiencing high-risk pregnancy.

Donate today and make a difference for expectant moms in need.