A Kidney Connection Turns into a Calling for Co-workers

r-Jami and Kristin (2)Jami Kaelin and Kristin Wilson work side by side at Community First Credit Union every day, but it took a while for them to realize just how connected they really were.

 “We’re both kidney recipients but we didn’t know it about each other because that’s the way this disease is,” Jami said. “No one talks about it, you don’t know if someone you pass in the street has it.”

Jami has a rare kidney ailment known as Dense Deposit disease. She’s had two kidney transplants and the second one has lasted 11 years already. Kristin was born with kidney damage and had her transplant about a year and half ago. When a company newsletter highlighted Kristin’s transplant, the two forged a friendship and share a dedication to  the kidney cause.

“We wanted to combine our efforts and find an organization we could get behind,” Jami said. “We wanted to let people know they aren’t alone, that there are people out there who have been through this and want to help.”

Both Jami and Kristin have taken part in other charity walks, but this time they decided to start their own event dedicated to the fight against kidney disease. For the past few months they have been worked to organize the first-ever National Kidney Foundation Southeast Iowa Kidney Walk to be held in Ottumwa.

“We reserved a pretty big park, planned the route and made a Facebook page,” Jami said. “We recently got our first donation from a local business in Fairfield, and a lot of businesses said they would put together a team and will be there. Our workplace is going to help out too, along with Walgreens. It seems people are getting really excited.”

While starting out small this year, both Jami and Kristin are looking forward to continuing the Ottumwa event and making an impact locally in the lives of kidney patients.

1 thought on “A Kidney Connection Turns into a Calling for Co-workers

  1. The Evansville area has an enormous population that suffers from kidney disease, and with your help I want to do something about it. On May 18th, 2013 @9:00 a.m. at Old National Bank Downtown, I will be participating in the first annual Kidney Walk to benefit the National Kidney Foundation, I have formed a team, it’s called “Team Save A Life” if you would like to donate online at: KidneyWalk.org. or come join my team and walk with me.

    I have had two kidney transplants my sister Tammy Patton-Witham donated her kidney to me in January of 1998, a few months later the kidney rejected & I had to do dialysis. Anyone who has done dialysis or knows someone that has done dialysis knows that it is a life-altering treatment for kidney disease. It’s one the hardest things I have ever had to do, but I wasn’t going to let this disease beat me!

    On July 21, 2004, my pager went off and it was Methodist-IU Transplant Center letting me know there was a kidney waiting there for me, I had to go to Indianapolis as soon as possible to receive this life saving gift-a kidney. I have had this kidney for almost nine years and I am taking it one day at a time.

    The sad side of all this is that a young male had to lose his life in order for me to continue living, thanks to that young man for choosing to be an organ donor I got a second chance at life. Please, if you are not a donor consider becoming one, you may never know if you, a family member or a friend may need an organ to save your or their life.

    I am glad that the both of you are giving back, I am trying to push for kidney disease awareness in Evansville, IN, it’s not on the list as being a serious issue. I hope we have a big turn out in May for Evansville’s first KidneyWalk!!! I wish Jami and Kristin continued health!!


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