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Vancouver man needs kidney transplant to avoid dialysis

By , Columbian staff writer
Published: April 17, 2019, 6:00am
8 Photos
Sana Mir, 4, from left, tries to get another sip of her dad’s tea, as Ahsan Mir, 50, and Asiya Mir, 2, watch a show after dinner at their Vancouver home. Ahsan was diagnosed with kidney failure about eight years ago, but he ignored his diagnosis until recently. Now he’s trying to seek help through a kidney transplant. Nathan Howard/The Columbian
Sana Mir, 4, from left, tries to get another sip of her dad’s tea, as Ahsan Mir, 50, and Asiya Mir, 2, watch a show after dinner at their Vancouver home. Ahsan was diagnosed with kidney failure about eight years ago, but he ignored his diagnosis until recently. Now he’s trying to seek help through a kidney transplant. Nathan Howard/The Columbian Photo Gallery

It took about eight years for Ahsan Mir to acknowledge he needed help.

Mir, who was diagnosed with kidney failure about eight years ago, is in need of a kidney transplant, as his kidney function has decreased to 10 percent. The 50-year-old Vancouver resident and father of two has, so far, coped well physically with his diagnosis, but the mental part of having a failing kidney has been much more difficult to handle.

Mir has know since his diagnosis that he would need to do dialysis or get a new kidney, but fear of the future, anxiety and sadness paralyzed his decision-making.

“It has been a very hard road for eight years. I was in denial,” Mir said. “I didn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it, and I’d try to act like I didn’t have it. Every time I get a blood test, it’s there. It’s not going anywhere. I think it took me eight years, but I’ve come to terms with it now.”

Mir, who is working with a kidney transplant team at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center, said that team told him he had to start speaking up if he wanted to find a kidney transplant, and he’s come to terms with that. Mir wrote a notice that the Islamic Society of Southwest Washington emailed out in hopes of discovering donors.

Mir is hopeful he can find a donor and avoid dialysis, which would be more time consuming. His insurance would cover the procedure for the donor if one is found.

You Can Help

Register to donate a kidney through Legacy Health’s website. To potentially donate a kidney to Ahsan Mir, you must fill out a form, and include his name and birthday: Nov. 16, 1968. You can call 503-413-6555 with questions or find the form here: https://legacy.donorscreen.org/register/donate-kidney

“My goal is to get a donor. Then I don’t have to do dialysis,” Mir said. “I could live without any problems, without any issues. Of course, I would be living on medication for the rest of my life, but who isn’t on medication?”

Mir, who is a front office manager at the Arlington Club in Portland, tried to deny his diagnosis as a way to mentally cope, but that strategy backfired. Mir said he was afraid of what would happen to his family if he weren’t around. He became consumed by negative thoughts.

“I’m chicken about everything,” Mir admits.

“He’s not strong at all,” his wife Zubaida, 40, joked.

According to the American Kidney Fund, Mir’s feelings of sadness and hopelessness while having kidney failure aren’t uncommon. Patients can experience stress, anxiety, depression and sleep difficulties while struggling with their diagnosis. Mir has experienced all of those feelings ever since his diagnosis.

Mir also had open heart surgery in 2015, and that made him even more pessimistic about his health. Mir said he ended up just becoming more stressed by the fact that he wasn’t acknowledging kidney failure and trying to get care.

“Being in denial made things worse for me,” Mir said. “Because when you’re in denial, you’re not being positive and taking care of yourself.”

Mir’s kids and his wife and her family have played a huge role in pushing him to seek help. Zubaida, who immigrated to the U.S. about 12 years ago from Afghanistan, said those eight years were rough on her.

“It’s very hard for me, because he does everything for me and the kids. When he’s sick and stressed it’s very hard for me,” she said. “I’m new to this country and the language. Everything is very, very hard for me. I hope we can find something for him.”

Zubaida’s cousins even visited the family, and had a heart-to-heart with Mir about seeking help. They all cried together. The cousins even accompanied Mir on some doctor’s appointments.

Mir doesn’t yet experience physical symptoms from kidney disease, other than some fatigue, but if he can’t get a transplant in the near future, he’ll have to start dialysis until he finds a donor, and his health could worsen.

Mir said his diagnosis has made him realize the importance of facing medical complications head-on and with strength. Mir said he tries to be mindful and not think too far ahead about the future. A coworker recently met a Vancouver woman who’d had a kidney transplant. The co-worker gave Mir that woman’s email, and they’ve been discussing what he’ll face if he gets a transplant. Mir said he’s leaning on his family and his faith to help him move forward.

“The more I think about it, the more depressed I get. The biggest key is don’t think about it,” Mir said. “Go to your appointments, think in the moment. Don’t think about what you have to do in a week or two weeks. That’s what I used to do that made things worse. Now it’s one day at a time. One step at a time.”

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