ALTOONA, Iowa –An Altoona woman is keeping a positive attitude while waiting for a new kidney. More than 580 Iowans are on the list for a kidney transplant.
Ardy Boucher is a bit of an expert on kidneys. She said, "I was diagnosed with kidney disease in 1964. I had what they called chronic kidney disease."
She was just 14 years old. Doctors think her kidney disease developed after getting scarlet fever at age two. "When I was diagnosed when I was 14, my parents were told I would not live to be 19," she said.
She'll celebrate her 69th birthday this year. She's had three kidney transplants, including one from a family member. "My 2nd transplant was in 1983. I received that from my brother Stuart, who is an amazing man,” Boucher said. "He was so selfless and said, I'm going to do this."
Boucher shares her story as part of the National Kidney Foundation's push to get the word out about the need for living kidney donors. The organization will host a walk at Raccoon River Park in West Des Moines May 6th to raise awareness. They expect 500 people to raise $70,000. The money will also go towards teaching people to keep their kidneys healthy.
Mark Davis with the National Kidney Foundation said, "We're not focusing on kidney disease as much as kidney health. And, we're looking at not just the kidneys, but the whole body. Your overall health has such an impact on your kidneys."
Risk factors for kidney disease include high blood pressure, diabetes, and family history. The National Kidney Foundation hosts free Keep Healthy screenings to catch the disease early. The next one is May 23rd at the Polk County Senior Fest.
National Kidney Foundation Community Outreach Coordinator Hayley Bookey said, "It is a quote unquote silent killer. There's not signs or symptoms associated. It's just one day you might wake up and realize you have chronic kidney disease and you're end stage renal disease and you're going to start dialysis and on the transplant list."
Ardy is now on dialysis three days a week as she waits for her fourth transplant. It must come from a living donor. She said, "My message to the transplant recipients and people on dialysis is don't give up. God has a plan for all of us. We don't know what the plan is.”
Ardy's brother is doing great after donating one of his kidneys to her nearly thirty years ago. The family will celebrate at the Kidney Walk May 6th. You can find more information and sign up at kidneywalk.org.