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Published on March 20, 2015

Every day 13 people die waiting for a kidney transplant, one local woman's story to increase awareness

Written by: Tabbatha Mills, 6News Lawrence reporter

View the news cast here 

Did you know March is National Kidney Donor Month? Most people don't. That's exactly why one local teacher, whose sister faces a difficult search for a kidney, is embracing all that is orange and raising awareness.

"So many people are dying every day because there aren't enough donors," said Rosina Houle.

Houle is right. According to the National Kidney Foundation, every day 13 people die waiting for a kidney. More than 96,000 people in America are in need of a kidney. Fewer than 17,000 people receive one each year.

As hard as it is to find one kidney match, imagine having to go through it twice. Houle's sister Jessie is currently on the waitlist for a second kidney.

"My mom donated a kidney to her 17 years ago. She lost function of it about a year ago. She's been having a lot of complications even being on dialysis," Houle said.

Eleven people have tried to donate a kidney to Jessie, none matched.

"Eleven times it has hurt when they say no," Houle said.

Now, for Jessie, every day is difficult.

"It's very easy to want to give up because she's in so much pain," Houle said.

That statement is a sad truth for all of those who are waiting.

"It's really difficult for people who are on dialysis. It's hard, it's a lot of effort, they don't always feel as good and a transplant is a miraculous thing when they get it and it works, it's a beautiful thing," said Dr. Scott Solcher, a Nephrologist at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

So what stops people from being a donor? Most of the time, it's fear.

"They're nervous about, well if I donate a kidney what happens if I need it later on," Houle said.

Dr. Solcher said that shouldn't be a worry.

"No transplant center wants to take a kidney that you might need and they don't want to take a kidney that's not perfect anyway to give to somebody else so if a transplant center finds you to be a suitable candidate then you know that your kidney health is very good," Solcher said.

Another factor, people just don't know about the need. For Jessie and her sister, shining light on that need is their mission now.

"If there was more awareness and people knew it would just be so much easier and it wouldn't in a sense be a senseless passing for her," Houle said.

March 14, Jessie's family will wear orange in her honor and will spend the day spreading awareness in the community.

For more information about National Kidney Donor month, click here.

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