Kidney Walk Leads to Kidney Donation

Thorne Ambulance_Dec 11Charity walks are great at raising funds and awareness for worthy causes, but rarely do they result in life-saving experiences for their participants.

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. “Thorne Ambulance

Soldier Saves a Life at Home

DallasSoldier Brandon and Bernadette_December 4 2013Dallas, TX – Bernadette Gail Moten was taking a morning trip to the corner store when she happened upon a radio station street team that would help change her life.

The 57-year-old Plano resident had been on dialysis for kidney failure since 2007, and the 106.1 Kiss FM crew asked her, on air, if there was anything she wanted.

“Dialysis was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Moten said. “So, I told them that I was on dialysis and needed a kidney.”

It was a long shot, but the call over the radio reached Dallas resident Brandon Vance, who was having a routine commute to work when he heard Bernadette’s message.

“It just sounded like something I needed to do,” Vance, 29, said.

Vance, who did three tours of duty in Iraq with the U.S. Army, was a perfect match for Bernadette. After months of additional testing, the transplant finally went through in late 2011. The experience was life changing not only for Vance, but for Moten who was finally off the painful schedule of dialysis.

“I get to enjoy life now and there is so much I am thankful for,” Moten said. “Brandon gave me life, and now I really take care of myself because I know I have a part of someone else inside of me.”

After initially shying away from telling his story, Vance has decided to become an advocate for organ donation and kidney disease issues. He participated in the Dallas Kidney Walk and shared his story with hundreds of others who have been affected by organ donation and kidney disease in Texas.

“For awhile I kept the donation quiet,” said Vance. “Then I realized this is an important message to get out there. I want more people to look into living donation and organ donation so we can get people who are waiting off that list. To me, it’s the right thing to do.”