Imagine walking into a doctor’s office for a routine examination with an expectation of leaving with a clean bill of health, but instead being diagnosed with a life-threatening condition. Samantha Ruggles, 22, didn’t have to imagine such an experience – she had to live it.
Ruggles, a graduate of Brigham Young University, had planned to serve an LDS mission earlier this year. During the physical required as part of the process of preparing for missionary service, a blood test revealed her creatinine levels were above normal.
Ultimately, she was diagnosed with kidney failure in June and was told she would need a transplant to save her life. The initial shock she felt was soon followed by sadness with the realization that the condition would also prevent her from serving a mission.
“I’d always felt healthy, so it didn’t seem like it was real. It meant that I would have to change my plans for life,” she said.
Despite the disappointment and health challenges Ruggles has faced since the diagnosis, she feels the experience has taught her a great deal about service.
Many of her loved ones offered to be tested as a match when they heard the news that a transplant was needed. Ruggles’ aunt, Lisa Whea, went ahead with the testing and discovered that her blood type and antibodies matched, and she agreed to donate a kidney.
“It’s been an amazing experience to see some positives come out of this hard trial. I am just overwhelmed. Words can’t express how grateful I am to everybody,” Ruggles said.
Ruggles was scheduled for the transplant Dec. 2 (after press deadline.)
Bryan and Suzie Ruggles, Samantha’s parents, recently organized a fundraiser with the support of the community on Nov. 22. The morning included a 5K run, breakfast and silent auction to help raise funds to pay for the transplant operation.
The cultural hall at her LDS ward house Riverton was filled with well-wishers hoping the best for Ruggles and for her speedy recover after a Dec. 2 transplant.
Thoughts and prayers were also offered for Ruggles on her Go Fund Me account, which raised more than the goal of $5,000 to help pay for medical bills.
Samantha Ruggles had a goal of raising $5,000 to help her family with the cost of medical bills, but supporters donated $9,115 within 14 days of the Go Fund Me account being opened on Nov. 11.
“I just feel so humbled and loved by everyone in the community,” she said.
As Ruggles moves forward from this experience, she plans to use all she has learned about service to help give back to others in need in the future. She has also returned as a graduate student to Brigham Young University and is earning a master’s degree in civil engineering.