Clock ticking, woman seeks donor for third kidney transplant
BIRD ISLAND -- Virginia Morse is putting up the Christmas decorations in the family's Bird Island home early, just in case her daughter doesn't make it to the holidays.
"I'm basically on borrowed time right now,'' said Chastity Morse, 34, shortly after she returned home on Monday after one of her three weekly trips to Hutchinson for dialysis.
Chastity Morse has made it this far in life thanks to two kidney transplants. She received her first in 1983 just before her 9th birthday and required a second in 1997, just before her 23rd.
Her body has been rejecting her second donor kidney since 2000. She has relied on dialysis for three years now, but time is running out. There is so much scar tissue in the blood vessel holding her current shunt that it often blocks up in the midst of dialysis.
It's her ninth shunt, and doctors are running out of options, said her mother. The surgeon has plans for another procedure to install a new portal. He warned them the odds of things working out are 50/50, said Virginia.
Their real hope comes in receiving a third kidney transplant. Chastity has been on the waiting list for a donor kidney for five years. There is no way to know if she will make it to the top of the list and the right match will be available in time, said Virginia.
They are hoping to find a living donor. They've tried everything from placing ads on Craig's List to asking area churches to put word about Chastity's plight in their weekly bulletins.
Due to the previous two transplants, her body is filled with antibodies. It's imperative that a donor be from a close match. In this case, it needs to be from a blood type O donor.
Chastity was adopted by her mother as an infant. She seemed to have normal eye function, but Virginia soon learned that her new daughter's vision was failing and that she would soon be blind.
There were no other signs of health issues in Chastity's life until elementary school. She started coming home sick. Doctors diagnosed her kidney problems and sooner than anyone expected, a transplant was needed.
Thanks to the transplants, Chastity has otherwise lived a very normal life. She graduated from high school and earned a two-year associate degree from the Anoka Ramsey Community College.
Her mother retired from her job with Metropolitan Transit and together they moved to Bird Island in June 2004.
Chastity loves small animals, and serves as a foster parent to abandoned pets under the care of veterinarian Diane Hansgen of Fairfax.
Ever since she learned Braille as a young child, Chastity has been a voracious reader, according to her mother. What she can't find in Braille she finds in audio book format. Fantasy, science fiction, westerns and books on ancient history are her favorites, said Chastity.
She also loves to write. She has written a fantasy novel that she hopes to make part of a trilogy. The second book is roughed out, and her ideas are shaped on the third book, she said.
Chastity said the dialysis sessions can be hard on her due to the complications. She said there are times the world goes silent, and she has the sensation of going into a tunnel before passing out.
A volunteer driver program in Renville County helps make it possible for her to make her medical appointments in Hutchinson. Virginia said she waits each time at the phone: There are times when the trip to the clinic is followed by a rushed ambulance ride to North Memorial Hospital.
That's exactly what happened last week. Chastity spent the whole of the week in the intensive care unit at North Memorial Hospital due to a blood infection.
Virginia, 68, is the lone care provider for Chastity at their home. Virginia is postponing a knee replacement surgery in hopes that her daughter can find a donor kidney and return to a normal life soon.
"She goes day-to-day now,'' Virginia said.
Any person with type O blood, age 18 to 70, could be the right donor. For information on donating, contact Cathy Garvey, transplant coordinator at the Fairview University-Medical Center on the University of Minnesota Campus, 612-625-2186 or 800-328-5465 ext. 582.