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A Grateful Patient: Pamela Nowell

Pam and Tom Nowell

Pam and Tom Nowell

For years, Pamela Nowell lived as if under a looming deadline. Diagnosed decades ago with diabetes and at age 21 with renal disease, Nowell was told by one of her doctors that she wouldn’t live past her early 30s.

“I said ‘OK,’ and then I lived my life day to day and I made the most of it,” Nowell remembers. “I never let a moment slip by.”

Nowell began a career in social work and devoted herself to helping others as the years accumulated—and as she lived past her doctor’s initial prognosis. After “the longest dating relationship, I think, known to mankind,” Nowell jokes, she married her long-time partner Thomas in 1999. The two have been at each other’s sides since.

But still, Pamela’s own commitment to knowing everything about her condition and her care didn’t mean she felt better. As the years went by, Pamela’s kidneys failed and her health continued to fluctuate, leading her to research different treatment options—and “I kept coming back to the University of Maryland … because of all the progressive work that was being done here,” she says.

“University of Maryland is a center of excellence, and honestly, I’m selfish enough that I wanted excellent care,” Nowell says of her decision. “I think everyone there is brilliant. Everything just seemed to fit when I decided that Maryland would be my choice.”

Pam Nowell and Dr. Weir

Pam Nowell and Dr. Matthew Weir

Under the care of Department of Medicine physicians Dr. Eugene Schweitzer and Dr. Matthew Weir, Nowell began dialysis in November 2012 and was placed on the waitlist for a kidney transplant. In July 2013, she received the call for her transplant surgery—an experience she will never forget.

“I took a deep breath and thought, ‘This is it,’” Pamela recalls. “I never had a doubt that this transfer was going to be what kept me here and kept me active.”

Three years later, Pamela is healthier than ever. Back to work in her garden and planning upcoming trips with Tom, Pamela is excited for what the future holds, and credits her recovery to her strong relationship with her doctors and to the expertise of the School of Medicine.

To encourage further research and therapies in the transplant and nephrology fields, the Nowells are leaving an estate gift to the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Their planned gift was “really kind of an easy decision to make,” says Tom.

“We wanted to give back and pay it forward to this institution that was so incredibly beneficial to us, and beneficial to so many,” Pamela adds. “We wanted to be part of the bigger picture. And the research piece is such an important part of that. I want the University of Maryland to continue to be a center of excellence and continue to go beyond imagination. That really does say it all.”