Patient Spotlight - Crystal Mroz

A portrait of Crystal Mroz. A woman with blonde hair, crystal is wearing a pink and white patterned top and a pair of glasses.

Diagnosed with kidney disease at the age of 8, Crystal Mroz knew she would need health care for the rest of her life. As she grew, she focused on her education and securing a good job. This would enable her to support herself and have access to the care her condition would require over time. “I have always had this major health issue in the back of my mind,” Crystal explained. “I couldn’t really be a dreamer. I had to be a realist because my health was always in the balance.”

When she experienced a minor heart attack in September of 2013, the fact that she was a two-time kidney transplant patient impacted her care.

After throwing some basketballs at a work picnic at the University of Michigan’s Crisler Center, Crystal felt some pain along her chest. She thought she had pulled a muscle, so she returned to her office and finished out the workday.

At home, she felt unwell and uneasy. Something seemed off. A trip to the ER for testing revealed the heart attack. A stress test was ordered. Since it was the weekend, Crystal was admitted to the hospital and awaited testing on Monday. While the results of the stress test came back okay, her doctors were interested in doing a heart catheterization. However, by that time, Crystal’s kidney had begun to fail. With all other signs pointing to an issue that was not severe enough to risk further damage to Crystal’s kidney, she was sent home.

She returned to work and experienced shortness of breath and chest pains while walking. Her symptoms were not improving. Finally, in January, she met with an interventional cardiologist who performed a heart catheterization. Understanding the severity of Crystal’s situation, he used the least amount of contrast possible. The test revealed a 95% blockage in Crystal’s right coronary artery. Stents were placed, and the catheterization did not cause additional damage to her kidney.

Upon release from the hospital, Crystal enrolled in cardiac rehab. “They were fabulous, and it gave me the confidence of knowing what I could do.”

Crystal has needed both additional kidney care and cardiac care since that time and has worked with many care providers. While she views all her care as excellent, she has had the opportunity to experience the different ways that her providers have interacted with her and how different hospitals provide care and manage tests. This is one reason she wanted to join the BMC2 PCI Patient Advisory Council. “I wanted to share the frustration of finding the proper doctor, the appropriate doctor for me,” Crystal shared. One thing that Crystal especially values in a provider is their responsiveness.

Crystal is hopeful that lending her voice will help providers understand how different experiences at different institutions can impact the patient experience. She appreciates that BMC2 PCI works to review data, and considers input from patients, to help improve care. “They’re trying to bridge those gaps between the different institutions and bring out best practices, bringing the best care to all facilities in Michigan. I don’t have this grand illusion that I myself am going to make a huge difference, but I figure that wherever I can share my story, make a difference, and help somebody, I should." By participating in the Patient Advisory Council, Crystal’s impact will reach many.