Recipient of Life

Published 2:05 pm Wednesday, April 23, 2008

By By Lydia Grimes – features reporter
Bertha Union has a better reason than most to be thankful for the organ transplant system. She became part of that system several years ago when her kidney stopped working.
In 2000 she found out that the other kidney had quit working and she had to go on dialysis. This meant that she had to spend three hours, three times a week in dialysis. At the time she was a first grade teacher at Brewton Elementary School. The dialysis made her sick and she soon had to give up her job.
Union's husband, David, sat beside her on the living room chair as she told her story and ever so often he would reach out and pat her on the knee. He said his wife was a ‘good woman.' She would push his hand away and every time he tried to say something good about her, she tried her best to dismiss it.
Not only did she have the problems with her kidney, but she became diabetic and while she was in the hospital she picked up a staph infection in her leg.
She was taking dialysis treatments in Atmore, and one Friday in 2006, she had just arrived home from one of her treatments when she received a telephone call. She said she was asked a lot of questions and was told that a kidney had become available for her.
She had to drive to Birmingham as quickly as she could and the transplant was done on Saturday morning. Everything seemed to work well from the beginning but she did have a problem that kept her in the hospital for three months. Her appetite was gone and she was not eating like she should.
During this time, her husband had taken over the household chores. He not only had to look after his wife, but her mother had been living with them at the time and she also had to be looked after.
April is National Organ Transplant month, and no one knows how important it is to be a donor, than those who have had transplants.
Union was born and raised in Brewton. She graduated from Southern Normal in 1967. She said she was a good student in school and made good grades. After high school, she attended Jefferson Davis Community College and received her master's degree from the University of West Alabama (formerly Livingston).
She got her first job right out of college at Brewton Elementary School teaching special education for a while before reading and math. She then became a third grade teacher.
She taught about seven years before she married David Union. They have been married for 26 years and they have one daughter, Kelly Union, and a grandson, Chrisaun Union.