According to donatelife.net, 100,000 people in the United States are on the national transplant waiting list for a donor kidney, and another person is added to the register every 10 minutes.
The website states that while family members are often the most likely to be compatible living kidney donors, many people undergo successful transplants with kidneys donated from people who are not related to them.
Meriden resident Barietta L. Rodriguez is one of those Americans praying for a hero donor to emerge.
Not too long ago, Rodriguez, a 20-year-old Maloney High School graduate, had dreams of going to college and becoming an English teacher.
Now, she’s urgently seeking a donor for a kidney transplant.
Rodriguez was diagnosed with lupus-nephritis in December of 2017, and the autoimmune disease caused her kidneys to fail.
“My life was totally flipped upside down out of nowhere,” Rodriguez told the Record-Journal. “They said that lupus caused kidney failure and that I was at about 15 to 20 percent kidney function at that time.”
Since her kidneys cannot filter toxins, Rodriguez is undergoing regular dialysis treatments, for which she had to have a catheter surgically placed into her veins.
Rodriguez has been searching for a potential kidney donor since October.
In June, doctors will determine whether to place her on the active kidney donation list, making her eligible for a transplant.
“All my peers have gone to college already, they’re working their job, they’re earning money, they’re traveling, and I’m stuck at home going to dialysis,” Rodriguez said.
While the past couple years have been difficult ones for Rodriguez, she presses on, taking strength from her loved ones, including her fiance, whom she began dating a few months before her lupus diagnosis.
And Rodriguez stays as active as she can. She volunteers for Prom Angels Foundation, a nonprofit that supplies prom dresses to those who can’t afford one, and during food giveaways at her local church.
Just imagine how much good this young woman — and others in need of a kidney transplant — could do with their health restored.
Those interested in donating a kidney should call Hartford Hospital’s Transplant Program at 860-972-9918 for more information.
To get a good idea of how much of a difference organ donation can make, consider the recent experience of Jaelin Highsmith, a 22-year-old Meriden man who went through month of testing an complicated surgery to donate a part of his liver to a person he had never met.
Highsmith read via Facebook about Madison Ricci, a 19-year-old Hamden resident who was diagnosed with lupus when she was 12 and has had to contend with the illness since.
After Ricci had a frustrating experience with a transplant procedure that had to be called off, her mother set up a Facebook page, Miracle for Maddie.
That miracle came in the form of Highsmith, a Platt High School graduate.
“it feels like a weight lifting off my shoulders,” said Ricci. “I finally get to live a normal life.”
That’s as profound a difference as you can make on behalf of another person.