My name is Jennifer. I'm 30 years old and I live in Tucson, Arizona. I’m a single girl who loves to dance and read books that take me to whole different worlds. I’m a fan of the outdoors and enjoyed yearly camping trips with my family until I became ill. Kidney disease has a way of putting life on hold, so now that I’m on dialysis, family camping is no longer an option.
Although dialysis makes it difficult, I work full-time as a service associate for a loan company. I have no children but do have a little “fur baby,” a Chihuahua named Chilindrina. Being a single person with a serious illness can be difficult, but I have a great support system in my family, which includes my 10-year-old brother, Juan. Juan is very special to me, and I would love to watch him grow up and accomplish his dreams.
I began this hectic journey 13 years ago, when I was 17-year-old senior in high school. I went in for my yearly physical, and 2 days later, I got a call informing me that I was in renal failure. Of course, my family and I were shocked! After further evaluation, it was determined that I had glomerulonephritis, a disease in which the very small blood vessels of the kidneys become inflamed and lose their ability to remove waste and excess fluid from the body. The cause of my disease remains a mystery, but it did explain why I had always been so super tired at school.
Shortly over a year later, I was on dialysis, receiving 9-hour treatments, 7 days a week. I continued dialysis for 5 years until a day in July of 2008, when I received a wonderful gift of life from a good samaritan who had made the decision to donate his organs at death. I will be forever grateful to the unknown man who, in leaving this world, allowed me to remain in it.
That beautiful gift gave me 2 wonderful dialysis-free years, but in January, 2011, my body began rejecting the kidney. My tranplant team did everything they could to save it, but it wasn’t possible. So, my life was once again put on hold. I wait hope, wish, and pray for continued life every day.
My family members have volunteered to donate to me but, unfortunately, health issues make all of them ineligible. Complicating things even more, although I have been on the waiting list since 2011, the chances of a deceased donor being a match for me are very slim: Blood transfusions and my previous transplant caused my body to develop a high level of antibodies (proteins that fight infection). The antibodies sensitize the patient against many potential donors--making it extremely difficult to find a match. Because of this, my doctor has recommended that I search for a living donor. Even then, I must have a large pool of eligible living donors to increase the odds of finding a match. For that reason, I am reaching out to as many others as possible.
I have Type B blood, but because my hospital, the University of Arizona Medical Center, participates in paired donation, a person of any blood type can donate. If you would like to be tested to see if you could be a match, please contact my transplant coordinator, Celeste Braly. You can reach her toll-free at 1-800-297-1250, option 1, or locally at 520-694-6637.
Thank you for reading my story and for considering being my hope...my hero...my donor. If you’re unable to donate but would like to help, please share my story with your friends and family.
Thank you, and may God bless,
My immediate and extended family members participated in our local Kidney Walk, an awareness and fundraising community event sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation.