In the last six months the daily life of Donna Denson, a Mint Hill resident, has changed drastically. “I’ve dealt with having Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) my whole life. Only 6 months ago, it became a problem.” Denson explains. Now, Denson is looking for a living donor so that she can continue to live her life to the fullest.
PKD is a genetic disease where a person’s kidneys form internal cysts and over time stop being able to perform their necessary functions. An individual who has the disease must monitor it on a yearly basis. More often than not, the individual will have to receive a kidney transplant before they are sixty.
On a recent visit to her doctor, Denson discovered her creatinine levels had increased from a 4 to 6.4 in the last six months. “I have no symptoms, but my bloodwork is saying my body is in kidney failure. My kidneys could stop working at any time.” Denson confesses. “But that’s why I know I got to tell my story. I can’t be ashamed of it. I am a private person, but I know how to ask for help.” With the support of her family and her community, Denson has begun spreading the word.
At First Citizens Bank, the company where Denson worked for twenty-five years, her team has created a charitable donation account. Anybody who wishes to help Donna Denson with the costs associated with PKD and its treatment, can visit any First Citizens branch and donate to the “Donna Denson Medical Account.” Donations can also be mailed to PO Box 691654, Mint Hill, NC 28227.
Denson’s daughter helped create the Facebook group “PKD Will Not Defeat Donna D” and Denson says she already has 400 followers. Members of Denson’s church, Walking by Faith Community Church, have been very helpful in sharing her story. “In fact, since I started telling my story, several people from the community have come forward to see if they are a donor match for me.”
Although Denson could receive a kidney from a deceased donor, she and her doctors are really hoping for a living kidney donor. “A living donor would allow me 10 times the amount of life expectancy.” Denson shares. “I’m fifty-five, young, vibrant and have no other health issues. I want to be around for my 4-month-old grandbaby’s high school graduation. I want to celebrate many more anniversaries with my husband. I want to continue to take care of my sons. I want to get back to my ministry of visiting the elderly and the handicapped. A living donor would add enough years to see those dreams come true. That’s key.”
Living Donor packets are available through Atrium Health. The folder will contain information about the importance of donation, what to expect from being a donor, and an application to see if an individual qualifies. Denson also encourages interested parties to contact her donor coordinator, Killian Scott, at 704-355-8474 to answer any questions or to receive further information.
There are no matches yet, but Denson will not give up hope and will not let this period of waiting stop her. She has been looking into various methods of dialysis and has gotten her AV fistula implanted in her arm. She researches grants and other funding options to help with medical costs. Because she has to be disease-free and confined in her house, she uses her phone to continue her ministry with the elderly and handicapped.
Denson says she feels at peace. “If I find a donor, I can have a new kidney within two months. And I know God can make it happen just like that. It’s all in His will and timing.” Denson smiles, a sparkle in her eye. “That’s why my verse is Hebrews 11:1. ‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.’”
“I don’t know where my kidney is, but I got the faith to believe it’s out there waiting just for me! That faith is all I can stand on.”