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Marie-Josee's Story

"Now, with a donor kidney, I feel much better and have my life back."

I was diagnosed with kidney disease more than 25 years ago. At first, it wasn’t something I spent much time thinking about. I took the medication my doctor prescribed, and my life continued pretty much as usual. Then, in 2016, everything changed. I found out my kidneys were failing and I would have to go on dialysis. It was a shock. Before I had time to process what was happening, I was learning how to use a peritoneal dialysis machine. 

I started dialysis on November 11th of that year, and added my name to the waiting list for a deceased donor kidney. The waiting list was long, and I was told it could take more than five years to find a match. At that point, I decided to take action. I did not want to be on dialysis for that long, so I started to look for a living donor. 
My idea was simple. I decided to advertise for a donor by putting a sign on my car. The sign read: “Kidney needed, O Positive, Share Your Spare and Be a Hero”, with my phone number. My ad garnered some attention, and even made the local news. But, at first it did not produce a match. 

In March 2018, for Kidney Month, I took a photo of my car ad and posted it on Facebook. One of my Facebook contacts saw the ad, and reached out. It was a woman I work with at the local school.  She said her husband was interested in being a donor. After months of tests, it turned out he was a match! I was so happy, and overwhelmed that someone I didn’t know was going to give me a kidney.  I had a transplant, and it was a success. 

My advice to others looking for a kidney donor, is to move outside your social circle. It may be hard, because once you go public, you are letting others know about your need and illness, but it opens up the chances of finding a match. If I were to do it again, I wouldn’t put my phone number on the ad. While some people who reached out were nice, there were others who were not. 

Just recently I celebrated my 60th birthday. It was a very special moment for me, because at one point I was so sick that I wasn’t sure I would see this age. Now, with a donor kidney, I feel much better and have my life back. That is the best birthday gift I could ever ask for.