PA Donor Day: Sheri’s story


Branchdale woman's agonizing wait for a kidney transplant

BRANCHDALE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — One organ donor can save up to eight lives.

It’s why on this first month on the 8th day, the first-ever PA Donor Day has been declared. The goal is to get more registered organ donors signed up to help Pennsylvanians in need.

More than 7,500 Pennsylvanians are in need of an organ transplant including a Branchdale, Schuylkill County woman who’s been waiting since 2014. Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller sat down with her on Wednesday.

“So this is my port. This is where the blood comes out.” At-home dialysis is a way of life for 44-year-old Sheri Warhola. For six years, she’s had to compensate for her failing kidneys. “It’s… it’s very frustrating.”

What’s especially frustrating is Ms. Warhola’s wait for a kidney transplant which her doctor told her she needed in 2014. Both of her kidneys are failing because of the ravages of diabetes which she was diagnosed with when she was 19.

“My two still have some function. They do still function slightly but when I get the one good kidney, that’s going to take over the function of both my failed kidneys,” Ms. Warhola said.

But getting that kidney is no sure thing. The American Transplant Foundation reports nearly 114,000 Americans like Ms. Warhola are currently on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ transplant. She’s had friends reach out and agreed to be tested but, “I don’t know if they passed, failed, what have you. So, I just, I wait.”

So she’ll continue doing dialysis four times a week and hope, pray that soon she’ll find an organ donor match which made 33,000 life-saving transplants possible in 2019.

“I feel I have a lot of life to live yet and I won’t… will not be able to do that if I don’t find a donor or a kidney,” said Ms. Warhola.

The Gift Of Life program estimates if every potential organ donor was registered, the number of lives saved each year would double. Ms. Warhola is working with Lehigh Valley Network Transplant Center to hopefully find a match.

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