Woman featured in kidney story dies
This story originally appeared in the Ventura County Star newspaper on December 24, 2011.
Sheryl Glatt, a kidney disease patient whose moving story was featured in a Ventura County Star special series over the summer, died on Dec. 18 after doctors tried to prevent her second amputation in five months.
Glatt, 51, of Simi Valley had endured a debilitating dialysis stint as she sought a kidney transplant that could statistically extend her life expectancy by nearly two decades.
She had undergone 16 surgeries when her story was published in July, the last the amputation of a lower left leg stricken with neuropathy, a nerve condition suffered by some kidney patients and diabetics. She underwent still more procedures recently, bringing the total to 20 in all, the latest operations designed to save a right foot that had developed ulcers.
"She had been at Valley Presbyterian Hospital for two weeks for additional surgeries, the last of which she laid unresponsive for five days and, at last, at peace," said her mother, Lois Rosenfeld.
"The only thing that keeps us going now is we know she is whole once again, without pain, and dancing in heaven," added Rosenfeld, who also took care of Sheryl's father, Neal Rosenfeld, before his death from kidney failure.
The special series, published July 23-24, focused on a federal policy that prevents kidney patients from receiving the medications they need throughout their lives to make a transplant successful. Glatt was one of nearly half a million patients nationally who instead are treated by dialysis — a physically draining and financially costly regime that is the dominant form of keeping kidney patients alive.
Toward the end, Rosenfeld said Glatt had become too weak to pass health evaluations that determine whether a patient is strong enough to receive a transplant. According to statistics kept by the United States Renal Data System, dialysis patients of Glatt's age and race have a life expectancy of just under six years.
But statistics mattered little to Glatt, who joked about wanting a perfect "Barbie leg, and you don't even have to shave it," the day she granted doctors consent for the amputation.
Glatt had last been interviewed and photographed on Oct. 17 by Lauren M. Whaley, a multimedia specialist with the center, who was working on a package of photographs and videos that would chronicle Glatt's adaptation to prosthetics as well as her prospects for a kidney transplant. Glatt was taking some of her first steps with her new leg at Vogue Prosthetic Orthotic Center in Thousand Oaks.
Glatt said in an email exchange after an interview, "PS ... 8 people came to my support group social dinner last night! ... and I drove to dialysis myself today and 'walked' in and out! Yeah! — Sheryl" Rosenfeld said that during the final conscious hours, Glatt "smiled once. Maybe sometimes would squeeze our hands."
Glatt also is survived by her older brother Lee Rosenfeld, younger brother Paul Rosenfeld, and by her sons Neal Glatt, 24, and Ryan Glatt, 20. Glatt grew up in the San Fernando Valley and graduated from CSU Northridge with a bachelor's degree in early childhood development.
She went on to work as a preschool teacher and later as an insurance officer for Insurance West. She had started a support group for dialysis patients at the Goebel Senior Adult Center in Thousand Oaks before her extended hospital stays made it difficult to continue the gatherings.