CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tamiko Patterson was born fast, running track for Christopher Newport University. But, the summer after her freshman year, she realized something was wrong.
She said she would come home from work and her ankles would be dangerously swollen.
Her kidneys were failing and for the next 10 years, her condition deteriorated. She went through dialysis for 5 years and received two kidney transplants.
Patterson said she is healthy now, thanks to her heroes -- her sons Neko and Khafre.
Patterson began dialysis when her youngest son was 2 years old.
"A lot of people think you have a transplant, you're find for the rest of your life. It just doesn't work that way," Patterson said.
She said the kidney failed after six years and she was back on dialysis as her children were growing up playing football, going to track practice, and would soon be off to UNC Chapel Hill.
"It was a lot, but I just felt like I had them. I might be going through this, but I'm going to have to push through it and do whatever I need to do," Patterson said.
She said her children had to grow up fast and had more responsibility than other kids their age.
"It made me realize I gotta help out around the house, do what I gotta do in school so I can further my education, get a college diploma, a college degree so I can get a good job and take care of the family," Khafre said.
Patterson said she doesn't know where she would be without her sons and her family.
Patterson had received her second transplant in October. She was off dialysis and getting stronger every day.
But three and half hours of treatment three times a week had taken their toll -- a fistula, the arteries and veins doctors bundle together to administer the dialysis had caused a knot under the skin of Patterson's arm like an aneurysm.
"I just remember her coughing by the trash can and then I see something leaking out of her jacket, but I didn't really realize what it is," Khafre said. "That's when Neko helped me take the jacket off. When she took it off, I just seen blood gushing out of her arm.
Khafre called MEDIC while Patterson told 13-year-old Neko to keep pressure on the wound, no matter what.
"I was just praying the whole time like please like this is not happening I just had a transplant I'm doing good. I know that this fistula in my arm isn't going to take my life away," Patterson said.
Khafre stayed on the phone with MEDIC and directed them to the house when Patterson lost consciousness.
"I don't know what I was thinking. I don't want to lose her. I wasn't really thinking anything. I was just trying to do what she told me to do so she didn't lose her life," Neko said.
Patterson had passed out, slumped against a chair on the floor, and blood was everywhere when MEDIC arrived. But, she was alive and after emergency surgery, she made a full recovery.
"I just thank God Khafre and Neko were here at that time to help me during that situation. If they weren't, I don't know what would have happened. They were my heroes for sure," Patterson said.
To learn more about Patterson's story, click here.
Cox Media Group