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Dear Friends and Family, As you may know, in 2020 during the COVID pandemic I caught COVID and was in the hospital for four months. During this time, I was intubated, bed ridden, and my kidneys failed. As a result of my kidneys failing suddenly, I had to start dialysis. Dialysis is a life sustaining treatment that helps remove the toxins in my blood. My dialysis experience started in the hospital but after being discharged from the hospital I had to go every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday for four hours to receive my treatment at an outpatient dialysis center. In January 2022, I started training for Home Hemodialysis and was finally home fully in March 2022. Although by choosing to do Home Dialysis, I am responsible for doing my treatments four times a week for three and a half hours, it allows me to have more freedom and I feel better than I did while I was in-center. While doing Home Dialysis has been great and keeps me alive, I could live a longer, healthier, and more normal life if I could receive a kidney transplant. Receiving a kidney transplant would also allow me to more time to do things that I enjoy most like traveling, spending time with friends and family, and shopping! However, finding a kidney for a transplant is not easy. Just ask the 100,000+ people on the transplant waiting list waiting for a deceased kidney like me. Some people wait for years; many people die while waiting. However, there is another option: receiving a kidney from a living donor. Asking a family member or a friend to consider donating a kidney to me is difficult, but it greatly improves my chances of getting a transplant. A living kidney donation typically lasts longer and has better function. Here is some basic information about kidney donation: You only need one kidney to live a healthy, long life. Most donor surgery is done laparoscopically, meaning through tiny incisions. The recuperation period is usually quick, generally two weeks. The cost of your evaluation and surgery will be covered by my insurance. The hospital can give you extensive information on this. You will have a separate team of healthcare professionals to evaluate you as a living donor. Their job is to help you understand the risks and benefits and look out for YOUR best interests. Also, you can learn more about living donation on the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) website: www.kidney.org/livingdonation or by contacting the NKF confidential helpline at 855-NKF-CARES (855-653-2273). Thank you for the time to read my story. If donating a kidney to me is something you would like to consider, I would be happy to explore the process of determining if you are a match for me. You can also contact my transplant center directly at: Living Donor Program in Abdominal Organ Transplant, 1 Medical Center Blvd, 8th Floor Janeway Tower, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, 336-713-5685.   However, I know living donation may not be right for everyone, but you can still help. You can consider being an organ donor after death and help me by sharing my story with everyone you know. At the very least I want to bring awareness to kidney disease and living donation. I am hopeful in my efforts will help me receive a kidney sooner and encourage others to consider helping the many people on the wait list.

Yours truly, Ericka R. (Lynch) Matthews


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