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posted: 8/18/2014 5:30 AM

Carol Stream Culver's owner, workers bound by transplants

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  • Daisy, left, and Brenda Martinez recently underwent kidney transplant surgery so that Brenda could give one of her kidneys to Daisy, who was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease in 2012. The sisters work together at the Culver's restaurant in Carol Stream.

       Daisy, left, and Brenda Martinez recently underwent kidney transplant surgery so that Brenda could give one of her kidneys to Daisy, who was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease in 2012. The sisters work together at the Culver's restaurant in Carol Stream.
    Safiya Merchant | Staff Photographer

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By Safiya Merchant
smerchant@dailyherald.com

Even in death, Amy Adams' son helped others.

At age 10, Zane Adams died after he was hit by a train 16 years ago in Wheaton.

Not long after, Amy got some eye-opening news. After donating her son's organs, she received a letter that detailed Zane's recipients.

"That really does make you think of all the people on those waiting lists," Adams said. "You hear about it in the news, 'Oh they're on waiting lists, this and that,' but wow, it really puts people to it, makes it real."

Now Adams, who owns the Culver's restaurant in Carol Stream, is helping two young employees very familiar with the transplant experience.

Daisy and Brenda Martinez have worked at Adams' Culver's for several years. The sisters recently had kidney transplant surgery, with Brenda giving a kidney to Daisy, who had been undergoing dialysis for almost two years.

On Aug. 26, Culver's will donate 50 percent of its sales to help the Martinez family with their medical and related expenses, Adams said. The Culver's currently has donation boxes out for the family as well.

"They're like a member of our family," Adams said of the sisters.

Daisy, 22, and Brenda Martinez, 24, live in Carol Stream and have three other siblings.

During her late teens, Daisy said she went to the doctor, where she was told she had acid reflux.

"Later on, I started feeling more sick. I started throwing up, I started swelling," she said.

While watching a movie with her sister in 2012, Daisy felt really sick.

As she later drove home, she started to fade in and out, "kind of like blacking out," she said.

After jumping a curb, her friend told her to pull over, and they went to the hospital. That's when she learned she had severe kidney problems, diagnosed as end-stage renal disease.

"That was a complete shock to me because I did not expect that, I was expecting something to do with my stomach," she said.

Before, Daisy was scared of taking the big step: A kidney transplant. She hoped to finish school before undergoing that surgery.

But she started experiencing side effects from dialysis, such as seizures, and decided she was ready for a transplant.

"I just got sick of ... sitting for three and a half hours, waking up every morning around 4:30 or 5 to go to dialysis, and I couldn't do some things with my friends," she said.

Earlier this year, she was told she would be the "perfect candidate" for a transplant. Her mother and sister were tested, and Brenda's blood was more compatible with Daisy.

"I was really happy because some people aren't even a match with their own family, and other people have to go through strangers or friends to get the kidney transplant," Daisy said. "And not a lot of people would want to donate; it's a very serious and tough surgery. It's a really tough decision, basically."

Brenda, who had never had surgery before, also acknowledged some apprehension.

"I guess I was scared of things going wrong for either one of us," she said. "I had a lot of mixed feelings, but I knew that I had to do the right thing."

The sisters had the kidney transplant surgery in July.

Despite her health problems, Daisy has been attending University of Illinois at Chicago since 2011. She hopes to go back to school after the fall semester ends.

Brenda has attended College of DuPage and hopes to become a dermatologist.

Adams said the girls are hardworking, responsible and ambitious.

Now that the surgery is over, the sisters are relieved and happy. Even though the surgery forces Daisy to take medication that has other side effects, the transplant will give her a new beginning -- and hopefully an end to dialysis.

"I'm happy that I got the transplant because, that way, I could do more things; I don't have to be tied to a chair three times a week," she said.

And Brenda can see the difference in her sister.

"Now she can eat whatever she wants," Brenda said, "and we see her and she has more energy -- she's just more happy."

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