In many ways, Terry Gerics, 62, of Greenville, was a typical Kidney Walk participant – personally affected by kidney disease and eager to support the fight in her community. When she was 43, Gerics was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease — a condition that causes cysts to form on the kidneys.
“When I was diagnosed, the doctors told me there would be a transplant in my future,” she said. “I thought they had to be wrong because I was such a healthy person.”
Gerics’ kidneys continued to function until she was 61; that’s when her doctors noticedshe was nearing kidney failure. The reality of her condition sank in. It was then that Gerics decided to volunteer and get personally involved with the National Kidney Foundation.
“I heard about the Upstate Kidney Walk last year, and I knew I had to go,” she said. “I usually never take Saturdays off at work, but this was important.”
While volunteering at the Walk, Gerics wore a simple sign that stated, “Kidney needed; any blood type”. The sign caught the eye of Simpsonville resident Sarah Thorne, 27, who runs Thorne Ambulance Service with her husband. Thorne was also volunteering at the walk and Gerics’ sign struck a chord.
“I know quite a lot about kidney disease because so many of our non-emergency transports are for dialysis patients who have kidney failure. So, I know what this disease can do,” she said. “I also knew that donating a kidney could save a life. I believe my faith led me to Terry. My heart was telling me it was the right thing to do.”
The women exchanged numbers and within the month, Thorne was undergoing tests to donate one of her kidneys.
“I had no hesitations about it, and it went very fast. We were very blessed,” Thorne said. “I filled out prequalification paperwork at the end of April and I was in surgery on May 31st.”
The donation saved Gerics’ life and prevented years of dialysis and a potentially long wait on the transplant list. Gerics is not only grateful, but is eager to pay the good deed forward as she and Thorne walk together at this year’s Upstate Kidney Walk being held at in Amphitheater at Furman University in Greenville, SC on April 21. It will be the anniversary of their fateful meeting.
“Sarah is a remarkable person, and I am so appreciative for who she is,” Gerics said. “Now, I’ve made it my mission to find a kidney for someone else. Give me a name, a picture, and their blood type, and I’ll work hard to change their life the way Sarah changed mine. “