‘A needle in a haystack’: Alberta woman searching for life-saving kidney donor

EDMONTON — An Alberta woman battling with a kidney disease that worsens with age is in need of a donor.

Kelly Konieczny lives on a farm in Manville, two hours east of Edmonton. Married to her husband for 25 years and a mother to three girls, she is fighting the end stage of kidney disease.

Konieczny has Polycystic kidney disease – a genetic disease that worsens over time. The only solution is a kidney transplant.

“I have known about this since I was 21, I’m now 47. I have been followed by a team the whole time but you cannot start the process of looking for donors or moving up on the donor list until you start dialysis,” she said.

The pandemic created delays in Konieczny’s treatment.

“I want to see my girls grow up, I have a lot of life left to live. With COVID-19 being so present in the last year and a half, my health is at the forefront even more. It has also caused the appointments, matches between donors and recipients and transplants to slowdown, which is crucial to someone like me,” she said.

Low energy levels, nausea, stomach pains, headaches, insomnia, blood pressure issues, heart palpitations, and strict food diet are amongst just some of the ways Konieczny’s life is affected.

“Because I am tied to a machine four to five times a week, we can’t go very far and if we do it might be for a weekend,” she said.

“Previously we were a busy family. We love to camp, travel, explore our province, do water sports. These are all now severely restricted or not optional.”

The search for a donor match is similar to “finding a needle in a haystack,” said the kidney disease warrior.

“I just recently started feeling OK to feel like I deserved a transplant. I always felt like there were people that were worse off than me, sicker, maybe little kids – and I always just felt guilty for wishing that I could get a transplant.”

DONOR WAITING LIST

As of Dec. 31, 2020, there were 276 Albertans on the waitlist for a kidney transplant. The province completes between 190 to 200 kidney transplants per year, according to Alberta Health Services.

One organ and tissue donor can save up to eight lives. There are currently more than 4,500 people in Canada awaiting a life-saving organ transplant, read a statement by AHS.

“It is recommended that you be your own advocate and bring as many people to the table as possible. Even if they don’t match you, they may consider being an anonymous donor for one of the hundreds of others in our province and country waiting” said Konieczny.

“It would mean a lot for us because we know she has been going through this a long time,” said daughter Payton Konieczny.

The Konieczny family says it means the world for people to get tested to see if they are a match.

“It is kind of a miracle that a random stranger may be a match for you and it’s giving you life,” said the mother and wife.

With files from CTV Edmonton’s Geoff Hastings 

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