LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — March is National Kidney Awareness month and here in Kentucky, data shows more than 1,031 patients are waiting for some type of transplant; 819 of them are waiting for a kidney. Unfortunately, the average wait time for a kidney transplant in Kentucky is almost three years. Across the U.S., 17 people die every day waiting each day for an organ transplant.
There are a number of factors why the wait is long. Medical urgency, time spent on the waiting list, organ size and compatible immune systems all play a role.
Lexington resident, Ashley Holt, is one of the more than 800 patients in Kentucky waiting for a kidney transplant. She unexpectedly had to go to the hospital, so her best friend Sara Soard stepped in to tell her story Tuesday.
Holt and Soard have known each other for 20 years. From college to careers, they have been through many phases in life together, but this recent one where Holt’s kidneys started to fail has made their friendship stronger, despite the ‘lows’.
“She texts me this week, “I’m at the hospital, but don’t worry, everything’s going to be ok,” Soard said. “She will be dismissed out of the hospital in the next day or so, but it’s just super discouraging when she’s already in the battle she’s in, then she gets an infection, and she has to get on more medicine, antibiotics, things to treat it. But even those lowest lows, she’s still the most positive person you’ve ever met.”
Soard says it all started when her best friend was misdiagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
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“Ashley has Type 2 diabetes,” Soard said. “In the African American community, you typically have Type 2. She was misdiagnosed for all those years, and eventually, that just took a toll on her and her kidneys. She ended up getting some tests done, and found out her kidneys were not functioning, maybe at like a two or three percent usage rate.”
Holt is now on dialysis. She also has been on a transplant list both at the University of Kentucky and the University of Cincinnati for two years, and Soard sees how it’s all changed her life.
“We used to travel, used to do stuff like that,” Soard said. “You always have to take into consideration, she can’t be more than six hours from Lexington, because if she does get the call, she has to be able to get home. My friend is tired all the time, she always wants to sleep, you see discoloration, she doesn’t eat a lot.”
All Soard wants to see is her best friend live her ‘best life’ again.
“To raise her daughter, to do the work she’s doing right now,” Soard said. “I know there’s somebody out there and I know she’ll find them.”
Holt is a chronic kidney disease advocate and she openly shares her story and journey at ashleyshanee.com.
To learn more about becoming an organ donor and help save lives through UK visit the UK Healthcare website.