Originally born in Panama, Carmen Buelvas Critchlow was sent by her family to the United States to acquire an education at the young age of thirteen. As a little girl, she dreamed of studying medicine and returning to help her people.
In her early twenties as a young mother of two small children, Carmen faced her first crisis with Kidney Disease. Her physical, emotional, financial and spiritual struggle against the many complications of the disease have spanned two decades, two kidney transplants and more brushes with death than most of us imagine possible in one lifetime.
Overcoming the dismal odds again and again, Carmen has become a strong advocate for her "colleague" patients and for organ donation, which for more than 75,000 individuals waiting in the U.S. alone, WILL spell the difference between life and death.
With her own special commitment to education, Carmen has developed a resource library for patients and families at her local Hemodialysis Center in Battle Creek, Michigan. She has spearheaded the formation of local support groups on quality of life that is possible on dialysis. She gives a great deal of time to encouraging other patients who have had or are facing organ transplants. As a more official volunteer, Carmen works with the Kidney Foundation and the Gift of Life Agency to distribute literature and educate the public about the need for organ donation. She is even helping the Gift of Life Agency translate their materials into Spanish and frequently serves as a translator at the local hospital on behalf of Hispanic patients.
That little girl could never have known that her struggle with Kidney Disease would catapult her into her own special mission of health education, one person at a time. Carmen Buelvas Critchlow is a woman from whom we can all learn important life lessons.
Carmen lives with her husband, David, in the country outside Battle Creek. They are the proud parents of two children, Peter and Angelina, and one grandson, Alex. Their home is often frequented by visitors who are intrigued by David's reptile farm and tropical plants—yes, even grown in Michigan.