Paula Fish, a retired Dutemple Elementary School teacher of 32 years, has been praying for a miracle.
Diagnosed at 36 years old with polycystic kidney disease (PKD), Fish has been in kidney failure for more than a year and her symptoms have been steadily getting worse. Although she is on the transplant list in both Rhode Island and Florida, she hasn’t had good luck finding a donor yet.
As someone with type-O blood Fish needs a universal kidney donor, but she is not a universal recipient. Someone with types A and B blood can take their own type as well as the type-O kidneys, but someone with type-O can only take a kidney from another type-O donor and the potential donor’s tissues and antibodies must also be a match.
Neither of Fish’s siblings are matches and a niece who was tested was also not found to be a match. One potential donor outside of the family was found through testing to be pre-diabetic, and therefore could not proceed.
The testing for both Fish and any potential donors is covered under health insurance, which is normally beneficial. However, now the issue of health insurance may be a stumbling block for Fish and her latest potential donor.
Late last week, a potential donor, Acacia Jacqueline Rogers, shared a crowd funding link on social media, a GoFundMe account, stating that she has been tested and it is confirmed that she is a match for Fish. The only stumbling block is that the donor does not have health insurance. Local kidney donor clinics require their donors to be insured.
In her GoFundMe statement, Rogers writes the following: “All local Kidney Donor clinics require their donors be insured in the event that the lack of organ should cause health issues or the need for hospitalization, which I cannot afford. The prospective recipient’s insurance covers the tests, consultations, and the surgery and transplant itself, but not any travel, lodging, or after care expenses incurred by the donor. The only clinic covered by Paula's insurance that does not require me to have health insurance is in Florida, and I have been working with them to move forward with the process.”
She said that as a New Hampshire resident, the travel expenses for a transplant in Florida are costly.
“I live in New Hampshire, so Florida is quite a distance,” she said. “I have an appointment September 13 to meet the donor team and conduct the last round of tests to confirm I am healthy enough to donate a kidney. After this, if all goes well, the surgery will be scheduled, and Paula, unlike so many unfortunate people in need of life saving donors, will finally have her shot at a full and normal life.”
The GoFundMe campaign was created in order to cover the costs of travels, flights, cabs, trains, food, hotels, and the like, which may be needed while Rogers is in Florida both for this appointment and for the surgery after, in addition to any medical expenses incurred during or after the process that Fish’s health insurance cannot cover. Additionally, if necessary, health insurance would be purchased for the months that follow the extraction.
Fish immediately checked in with her donor advocate and confirmed that the potential donor was legitimate and did in fact, start the process, and she is hopeful that the next steps for testing will go smoothly, as her own health has been on the decline in recent weeks and months. “I am increasingly tired and getting daily headaches, all associated with my kidney disease,” she said. “I am trying to stay positive, but it is a bit difficult to do. I spend a great deal of time napping, which is something I never did, but I’m so very tired. My numbers are worse every time I go to the doctor. I guess I just need to keep hoping someone will be my miracle. Maybe this girl is the answer for me.” Fish is unable to “buy” a kidney, and therefore cannot help in her potential donor’s crowdfunding, but remains hopeful that this prospect will be her miracle. “This is my first ray of sunshine in a long time,” Fish said.
To donate to the potential donor’s GoFundMe fundraiser, visit the website www.gofundme.com/uzpza2-help-me-save-a-life
To find out more about Paula Fish and her needs, visit her website and social media links www.facebook.com/paula.fish.5667, organdonor.help, phone number 401-400-0521).