- Written by Megan Joyce Megan Joyce
109,000 men, women, and children were on the national transplant waiting list as of September 2020.
That number comes from OrganDonor.gov, the U.S. government’s website on organ donation and transplantation.
Requests for the most frequently needed organ — the kidney — make up about 83% of the people on the national transplant waiting list, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
And now, a 10-year-old Boiling Springs girl is on that waiting list for the second time in her short life.
Born with branchiootorenal syndrome, by age 2 Vera Anderson had already been on dialysis for more than a year when she received an emergency kidney transplant from a recently deceased person. BOR syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes abnormalities of kidney structure and function.
Like many tweens, Vera is a spunky girl who enjoys dancing and drawing. She likes cooking with her mom, too, as well as watching Liverpool FC with her dad and exploring the outdoors with her big sister, Maia.
She has also spent a lot of time in hospitals and doctors’ offices, however, and her family is hoping a living donor can be found so Vera can spend less time in those places in the years to come.
On average, deceased kidney donor transplants last 10-15 years, according to the American Kidney Fund. Kidney donations from a living donor last longer, about 15-20 years on average.
But these averages assume the transplanted organ does not get rejected by the host body.
In Vera’s case, her system has been rejecting the donated kidney for quite some time, and last summer her transplanted kidney — her only functioning kidney — declined to the point that another transplant became urgently necessary.
Kidney transplant surgery is a three- to five-hour procedure performed laparoscopically. Donors are usually in the hospital for one or two days and rest at home for a week. Normal activity is typically resumed in four weeks.
Potential donors must be between 21 and 70 years old and not have a history of diabetes, uncontrolled high blood pressure, or kidney disease themselves.
It can take several months for potential donors to be evaluated and depends on how quickly the necessary tests — which include blood and urine tests, blood pressure checks, an angiogram, chest x-rays, and others — can be completed.
All expenses related to testing and surgery are covered by Vera’s insurance.
“Our greatest hope is we can find a living donor who is a good match so Vera can enjoy life like any 10-year-old,” her family wrote on her Facebook page, facebook.com/VerasKidneyJourney.
For more information on donating a kidney to Vera, call the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Transplant Clinic at (717) 531-6092.
To learn more about organ donation, visit Explore Living Donation (explorelivingdonation.org), Living Donors Online (livingdonorsonline.org), and the United Network for Organ Sharing (transplantliving.org).