Andrea Mackinaw, 26, was just 14 when a disease called Henoch-Schonlein purpura (HSP) attacked her kidneys. Since then she has depended on dialysis to keep her alive.
She has been on the transplant list for year, but now Mackinaw has end stage renal failure and is in desperate need of a new kidney. Both her uncle and grandma passed away from kidney failure.
“I think there is going to be light at the end of the tunnel, if I wasn’t meant to be here, I wouldn’t be here,” Mackinaw said.
Mackinaw has taken matters into her own hands to find a donor. She has a Facebook page where she shares her journey. With help from a friend and her college, a fundraiser was help to buy advertising space at a couple LRT stations in Edmonton, they will stay up until she gets a kidney. She is still raising money, to buy a billboard.
“I can feel that it’s (a transplant) is going to happen soon, and my life is going to change.”
It’s been effective in the past: in 2018, a Calgary man found his donor thanks to a flashy billboard and vehicle decals.
The kidney foundation says this speaks to how long it takes for people to get a transplant in Alberta.
“The average wait time for a kidney transplant is four years (in the province) and Albertans are taking matters into their own hands,” said Manuel Escoto from the Kidney Foundation of Canada, Northern Alberta region.
“Life on dialysis is difficult, for many patients, dialysis impacts their physical, emotional and financial well-being.”
It’s been a difficult road for Mackinaw. She’s had surgeries, and two heart attacks. While going to post-secondary has also been hard to keep up with, she hopes to one day become a nurse.
Currently, she receives four hours of dialysis, three times a week.
“It would be a dream come true to travel, and not have to worry about dialysis, setting up times and where to, and having to pay for it,” she said.
Mackinaw can accept donors with O- or O+ blood types.
She has high hopes that someone out there will see her story and become her donor.
“I’m excited for my new life, a little scared, but excited.”