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An entire country separates Morriston’s Dottie Hydue from her step-daughter in California, but it hasn’t deterred her from becoming an advocate to raise awareness for the need for living organ donors.
March 10 was National Kidney Day, and Hydue can’t think of a better way to commemorate it than by urging people to consider becoming an organ donor.
Her stepdaughter, Tracie Skaggs, 48, suffers from kidney failure and undergoes dialysis while she waits on a matching donor.
Thus far, no one in the family has been a match and while 3,000 miles may separate them, she is raising money locally and educating people about the need for organ donation.
More than 26 million Americans have chronic kidney disease and most don’t know it.
Tracie knew something was wrong when pain lingered longer than usual, her stepmother said. A blood panel revealed that her kidneys were indeed failing.
A living kidney transplant has an estimated life span of 18 years, twice as long as a cadaver transplant, Hydue said.
More than 83,000 people are now waiting for donors and only about 14,000 transplants are performed each year. Only about one-third of them are from living donors and 3,000 people will die from kidney disease while waiting.
“I want people to be aware of the need,” Hydue said. “Be informed.”
There is risk involved, she said, and to ensure the donor is fully aware of the process, psychological evaluation is mandatory.
There’s also an education phase of donation, where information is gleaned and questions are answered.
For example, Hydue pointed out, there is little or no cost to the donor. The recipient pays for travel costs and most insurances will pick up the costs for the recipient.
For Tracie, the cost of dialysis has been draining–at a cost of about $15,000 each month.
While the hairdresser was working and insured, costs were met through insurance, secondary policies and family member donations. But her illness so debilitated her, she had to close her salon and file for disability.
Hydue is promoting living organ donors through the End the Wait campaign through the National Kidney Foundation.
Be sure and stop by the End the Wait booth at local festivals throughout the year.
“Most of us never have the opportunity to perform a heroic act such as land a plane on a New York River or subduing a bombing suspect on an international flight,” Hydue said. “But those who give the gift of life by being an organ donor are the ultimate heroes.”