In 2001, Erin faced a complete kidney failure that forced her to get on a transplant list and miss out on most of her college classes at Youngstown State. She received a kidney donated by her aunt, but just when things started turning around her body rejected the transplant. Later, she was to learn that she had a rare blood-clotting disorder that was part of the rejection issue.
So Erin spent the last 13 years on a transplant waiting list, constantly battling the medical community to prove herself healthy enough to receive another kidney. She went through bariatric surgery to lose weight, set herself up to try to find a rare match through online communities and through it all (including 5 days of dialysis per week, with each treatment lasting around 5 hours) she managed last year to complete her degree as a Vet Tech. Each time Erin got close to receiving a kidney, there was another disappointment or set-back. Constant surgeries were also required to keep ports open for the dialysis treatment, which left her body battered and bruised- unable to even shower without special waterproof patches.
Last year, in 2016, on Erin's birthday, she passed out and ended up in the hospital for nearly a month. She was delusional from strong antibiotics and confused throughout her stay. She was in extreme pain from a condition known as Calciphylaxis, or calcific uremic arteriolopathy (CUA). CUA is a syndrome of calcification of the blood vessels, blood clots, and skin necrosis. It is seen mostly in patients with stage 5 chronic kidney disease, but can occur in the absence of kidney failure. It results in chronic non-healing wounds and is usually fatal. These hard painful open wounds on her stomach prevented her from being on the list for a transplant. During Erin's hospital stay, she suffered a stroke and lost vision in her left eye completely.
As if that wouldn't be discouraging enough, her mother Cathy who is her only support and caregiver, was diagnosed with Plasma Cell Leukemia.
Miraculously, Erin and Cathy both fought through their diagnoses, and started healing. However, just as things began normalizing this summer, Erin was told that she would be removed from the transplant list as she was not deemed healthy enough to receive a kidney. Last week, Erin was rushed back to the hospital as she lost vision completely in her right eye. Her vision is completely gone now. Her optic nerve in her right eye is swollen and has been for sometime. They said they think the swelling is caused by her low blood pressure and her clotting disorder, which starved her optic nerve or oxygen.
Erin is devastated and scared. Neither her mother nor she can work and have no incoming funds other than a small amount of government assistance each month. They face mounting medical bills for treatments and medication. Additionally, Erin will need help adapting to her new challenge of being blind. She could use a seeing eye dog, modifications to their home, and perhaps training to learn how to get around. This is urgent and any amount that you can offer will directly benefit Erin to get the help she so desperately needs at this time. Please consider giving any amount that you can.
Through this all, Erin has been nothing but positive and optimistic. She has only broken down to me privately a small handful of times. She is a source of inspiration and her strength is unbelieveable. Please pay it forward and show her how much you love and care for her.
- Anna Macdonald
- Jane Hautanen
- Cara Bussell
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