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By Max Erikson

It's a long wait for a kidney


February 28, 2018

Goldendale resident Joanne Davenport has been struggling with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) for many years and is currently one of the 100,000 people nationwide on a waiting list that one day could provide a donated kidney to save her life.

PKD is a hereditary disease that causes numerous fluid-filled cysts to grow in the kidneys. As the cysts grow, it damages the kidney function to the point of kidney failure, also known as renal disease. Kidneys are the organs in the body that filter blood, maintain healthy fluid levels, help make red blood cells, and help keep blood pressure under control.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, 600,000 people in the United States are currently fighting the disease, and one in three American adults are at risk for PKD. Risk factors include having diabetes, high blood pressure, family history of kidney failure, and being age 60 or older.

Davenport has lived in Goldendale for 26 years and was a License Practical Nurse (LPN) at Klickitat Valley Health for 14 years before she got sick. For Davenport, and many others, a kidney transplant is their best hope for living a longer healthier life, but finding a donor with the correct blood type is difficult.

“I have known I’ve had the disease since I was about 30,” Davenport says. “But when I turned 40, it really started to progress. After the last five years of fighting it, I’m at the point where if I don’t find a donor, I will need to start dialysis.”

There are two ways a person with PKD can receive a kidney for transplant. One way is to be on the waiting list to receive a kidney from a deceased organ donor. However, the average wait time for a kidney from a deceased person is three to five years. Many with PKD don’t live long enough to exercise that option.

The other option is to receive a kidney from a person who is alive and willing to donate. That is known as a living donation. Living organ donation programs were developed as a direct result of the critical shortage of deceased donors. Living donations give the best chance at survival for individuals waiting for a transplant, and oftentimes it can be a donation from a close friend or family member. In 2015 6000 living donations were made in the United States.

Living donations are a faster alternative if the right match can be found, which requires matching the correct blood type with the donor and the recipient. Davenport has recently made a public request to the Goldendale community to see if there is anybody interested in becoming a living donor or willing to help find someone who will.

“I’m hoping that there will be someone with a gracious heart willing to help and give me a chance to live,” Davenport says.

Davenport has been working with the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle that has been providing kidney transplants since 1972. Virginia Mason has a living donation program, and for those who might be interested in learning more about donating, Davenport encourages people to visit their website at


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