WASHINGTON — “I think of my daughter and husband. I know I can’t give up,” says Kim Emerson of her long journey through cancers and kidney failure. The 39-year-old wife of Travis and mother of Kandace is in line for a second kidney transplant at Tufts Medical Center in Boston as soon as she’s medically cleared. Kim is no stranger to frightening illnesses. She was a cancer patient even before she was a mother, when, as a teenager, she had 18 months of chemotherapy to treat a tumor on her rib. She prayed for recovery and went on with her life. She and her husband, Travis, were married in 2011.

In 2013, when her daughter, Kandace, was just a year old, Kim was diagnosed with kidney cancer and her left kidney was removed. Unfortunately, meanwhile, the chemo she endured during the tumor treatment years before had damaged her heart which deteriorated, finally requiring a heart transplant in 2018. The new heart was protected by anti-rejection drugs, but those medicines led to damage to Kim’s remaining kidney. That kidney continued to fail and the search for a kidney donor began again. Finding the donor whose organ has the best chance of success is complicated, time-consuming, and nerve-wracking. Kim says the Tufts Medical Center team in Boston is very helpful and supportive of patients facing these devastating health conditions and provides education and assistance with solving the many challenges they face.

Because no one in Kim’s family was a good match for donating an organ and because she has a rare blood type that seldom arrives in the organ bank, Kim and the team knew she would need a live donor. With emotion in her voice, Kim said that her special angel donor has been found. So, now the countdown to the transplant begins. Kim is currently being treated using an AV graft device that facilitates the work of the non-functioning kidney (blood cleansing). When her body is ready, the operation will be scheduled. After it’s performed, Kim will remain in the hospital being monitored for organ rejection, infection, and any other changes. Once she is released home, she will be traveling back and forth to Tufts Medical Center in Boston every week for six months of observation and tests that are routine for post-operation patients. Following this will be six more months of less frequent (probably bi-weekly) Boston trips, and then regular trips to Maine Medical Center indefinitely.

The cost of these trips is one of the many expenses beyond the medical-surgery fees and is a focus of a community fund-raising supper planned for Friday, Nov. 11, (Veteran’s Day) from 4:30-6 p.m. The supper is supported by Washington’s non-profits Central Maine Bird Fanciers, Evening Star Grange, 4-H, Mt. Olivet Masons, Prescott Memorial Parent Teacher Organization, The Village Church, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Auxiliary, Washington Town Office, and Washington Fire Department Auxiliary. The meal will include homemade baked beans, casseroles, salads, biscuits, beverages and desserts. The cost is $12 for adults and $5 for children. If you would like to make a larger donation, simply add it when you buy your meal.

There are over 110,000 individuals on waiting lists for organ transplants here in the USA and only about 35,000 organs available. The website www.organdonor.gov helps understand the basics for donors and recipients. Anyone considering being a living donor can contact Tufts Medical Center in Boston at 617-636-5000 and ask for a transplant coordinator. The website at Tufts concerning being a living donor is livingdonortufts.org. Organ donors are literally life savers. Kim Emerson says nobody knows better than she that “organ donors save lives.”