Art Attonito: Living with Diabetes and Kidney Transplant


Art Attonito is a Veteran of the U.S. Army Paratroopers. After attending Wagner College in Staten Island, Art set about building and owning a successful business, Attco Associates. Now retired Art is an avid golfer and member of Copper Hill Country Club in central NJ. 

 

Part 39 | The Exchange Program

Art describes finding out about the exchange program- which allowed him to receive a kidney that was a better match than Karin's. The whole process took about six months.

 

About Art Attonito

I grew up in Queens, NY and started working a young age, going down to my father's junk business to earn some spending money as a kid.
 
In the middle of my college career, I went into the military and was a paratrooper in Germany in the 1960's after the Berlin Wall fell.  After my time in the service, I returned home and finished college.  I spent some time in the workforce and then decided to start my own company, from which I'm now retired.
 
I have two wonderful children, who are all grown up now. My daughter, Karin, is the oldest child and is a multi-Emmy Award winner.  She works as a producer for a news channel in New York City.  She is married and has a lovely daughter named Ava, who is the light of my life.  My son, Greg, is a very successful musician, playing in his own band, and he lives out in Idaho with his wife.
 

Learn more about the 360 interview series.

 

Previous Chapters:

 

Part 1 | My Life Story

Art reflects on his life, from growing up in Queens, NY, to his life in the military, and his career and retirement.


Part 2 | My Family

Art talks about his family and his two children, who are now all grown up.


Part 3 | My Medical History

Art talks about his prior medical history leading up to his kidney transplant, including surgery for a slipped disc and treatment for prostate cancer.


Part 4 | Dealing with Prostate Cancer

Art talks about catching his prostate cancer diagnosis early and talking with his children about the condition.


Part 5 | Psychological Effects of Prostate Cancer

Art talks about the psychological effects of treatment for prostate cancer and how it mentally wore him down.


Part 6 | Kidney Failure

Art talks about living with kidney problems for 10-12 years and trying to treat them with vitamins and supplements. Ultimately, he had to make the decision to undergo dialysis.


Part 7 | Being Stubborn

Art reflects on not wanting to accept his diagnosis and being stubborn about going in for treatment.


Part 8 | I Finally Listened

Art talks about not feeling sick at first and then realizing that he was in dire need of going in for dialysis.


Part 9 | Diet and Exercise

Art shares how changes to his eating habits and exercise have helped him feel a little better.


Part 10 | Dialysis Treatment

Art tells us what happens during his dialysis treatments.


Part 11 | Energy After a Long Day

Art talks about what a day of dialysis treatment is like and how he didn't realize how bad he was feeling until he started to feel better.


Part 12 | Getting Sick

Art talks about his efforts not to get too sick and go into kidney failure and how his lab results would continue to fluctuate over time.


Part 13 | The Donor Process

Art discusses the conversation he had with his physician about finding a donor for a kidney transplant, and some of the issues he came across during that search. Also, he talks about how readily his daughter and son-in-law volunteered for donorship, and how thankful he was for their generosity.


Part 14 | I Didn't Have to Wait 5 Years

Art talks about the criteria for a perfect kidney transplant match, and the organ transplant exchange program. At the time this interview was conducted, Art was in the middle of an exchange that involved as many as six people from different parts of the country.


Part 15 | The Complete Process

Art talks about his meeting with his doctor during which the complete process of the surgery and recovery were detailed to him. Compared with the donor (his daughter), his surgery and recovery is a much more serious and longer ordeal.


Part 16 | When They Know, I'll Know

Art weighs in on how long it takes doctors to know whether or not a transplanted kidney will develop problems for the recipient. Also, he describes how the transplanted kidney expands when it is inside the recipient in order to handle the amount of blood that will filter through it.


Part 17 | What Led to My Diagnosis

Art talks about how his diabetes, which he admittedly did not pay enough attention to, led to complications with his kidneys.


Part 18 | I Didn't Listen to My Doctors

Art admits to not taking his diabetes as seriously as he should have. He has since learned his lesson, and his blood sugar is at a healthy level. The key to controlling diabetes, says Art, is simply watching what you eat.


Part 19 | Steroids Worsened My Diabetes

Art talks about being prescribed steroids in order to get his kidney problems under control. Ultimately, however, the steroids caused his sugar levels to go "through the roof," and left him nearly completely debilitated.


Part 20 | My Diabetes Is Under Control

Art talks about how steroids led to complications with his diabetes by making his blood sugar levels skyrocket. Since then, he has managed to keep his diabetes under control by paying close attention to his diet.


Part 21 | My Kidney Transplant

Art describes his experience on the day of his kidney transplant.


Part 22 | Preventing Diabetes

Art shares some of the insights he has gained through his journey with diabetes. He recommends living a preventative lifestyle- meaning watching closely what you put into your body and staying active.


Part 23 | Getting Through My Sickness

Art expresses his gratitude for the overwhelming amount of support he received from family and friends while he was sick.


Part 24 | Growing Up with My Dad

Karen reminisces about what it was like growing up with Art as her father. She has fond memories playing sports with him, her friends, and her brother. Also, she he expresses gratitude for how encouraging he was by constantly reminding her that she did not have to conform to traditional expectations for what a female should do.


Part 25 | Watching My Dad Become Ill

Karen shares her observations regarding her dad's health throughout her lifetime. When she was a kid he definitely wasn't diabetic but had a bit of a weight problem. The diagnosis did not occur until well into her adulthood, after he had been sick for some time. Initially he improved, but a lack of education eventually led to problems.


Part 26 | Learning About My Dad's Kidney Disease

Karen's talks about how surprising it was to learn about the seriousness and progression of Art's kidney disease.


Part 27 | My Dad's Prostate Cancer

Karin talks about the events surrounding her father's prostate cancer diagnosis. Due to Art's diligence in receiving annual exams, they caught the cancer in an early stage. He was treated successfully with radiation therapy and is currently cancer free.


Part 28 | Regretting Taking My Dad's Illness Lightly

Karin expresses some regret for not paying closer attention to the state of her father's health. She attributes this partly to Art's tendency to downplay health-related issues.


Part 29 | Giving My Kidney to My Dad

Karin talks about the requirements and consequences of being an organ donor. Also, she describes going to the transplant center and learning that she was a type-O (universal donor). She then explains the complicated nature of the exchange program they entered into- which led to more life-saving transplant operations.


Part 30 | Kidney Transplant Recovery

Karin talks about what her recovery from organ transplant surgery will entail. After 1-2 days in the hospital, she has to limit her activity for a couple of weeks and then can return to work after about 3 weeks. She acknowledges that the whole process will not be easy, but focuses on the temporary nature of the discomfort.


Part 31 | Best Decision of My Life

Karin talks about her anxiety surrounding the operation being eased by discussions with people who were educated on the topic. She became even more optimistic about her decision after communicating with individuals who had donated their kidney. One of the donors described the event as "the best decision she had ever made."


Part 32 | Given the Green Light

Karin talks about the amount of control given to the donor during the planning stages of an organ transplant operation. The donor can choose a time that is most convenient for their schedule, and particular attention is paid to the care plan of both the donor and recipient.


Part 33 | Health Update

Art provides an update on the state of his health. He's at about 90%, with the medication causing some weakness and fatigue. However, he is happy to report that he feels much better compared to immediately after the surgery.


Part 34 | Given the Green Light

Karin talks about the amount of control given to the donor during the planning stages of an organ transplant operation. The donor can choose a time that is most convenient for their schedule, and particular attention is paid to the care plan of both the donor and recipient.


Part 35 | After the Transplant

Art says he feels pretty good after the transplant. He's at about 90%, and his strength hasn't completely returned. The anti-rejection meds are giving him the most problems, but overall he is improving on a daily basis.


Part 36 | Before the Surgery

Art talks about the informational meetings that took place leading up to the surgery. He explains that the original kidneys are left alone to atrophy, while the new one is placed in the front of the body.


Part 37 | Living After a Transplant

Art talks about being interviewed about the exchange program. He reported having no complaints about the entire process. He also he explains his binder, where he keeps a daily log of all of his vitals.


Part 38 | Meeting the Donors

Art describes what it was like to meet the donors involved in the exchange program after the surgery. The event was covered by major television networks, and was a very emotional affair.


 

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