Amy Hastings McGee says she has met death face-to-face many times, but is not willing to give up. She is desperately hoping to get her fifth lifesaving transplant - a fight against medical norms and a debilitating disease.
An old newspaper clipping brings now 37-year-old Amy Hastings McGee, of Sulphur, back to a time of promise after a life-changing diagnosis of end stage renal disease. "They discovered that I was obviously born with only one kidney," she said, "that kidney disintegrated as I grew older."
That one working kidney was only functioning at five percent, the size of a sweet pea, but serving the role of filtering toxins out of the entire body. "Any waste that you may have in your body. Anything you eat or drink - your kidneys balance that out," said Amy.
Amy's failing kidney could not do the job and at age 11, she had her first kidney transplant. "Here I was in Sulphur, Louisiana," said Amy, "and I got a call to go to New Orleans where I got a cadaver kidney from a little boy in Pine Bluff, Arkansas."
That kidney lasted for two years, then began failing.
Amy's second transplant would come from her now deceased sister, Holly, and would last four years.
Just as high school graduation approached, Amy underwent her third kidney transplant. "That made me healthy again quickly and within a month," said Amy, "I was going to Louisiana Tech for school."
Amy nearly made it through her college years without needing another transplant, but for the third time, her donor kidney failed. Getting a fourth kidney took a fight. "I found a very sweet doctor and he pled my case for me," said Amy, "and he got me that kidney and that kidney lasted a few more years."
Four transplants, 25 years of kidney disease and 15 years of dialysis have worn down Amy's body. The nation's leading transplant team has denied her candidacy for a fifth transplant, but she says "no" is not an answer she is willing to accept. "It doesn't matter where I have to go, what I have to do," said Amy, "it's my life and no doctor is going to change that."
Amy, her husband Josh and their four inherited children from Amy's late sister say they will do whatever it takes to get the transplant. In the meantime, Amy is kept alive by blood cleaning hemodialysis 20 hours a week. "What scares me is the reality of what can happen whenever your body is no longer ready to be a dialysis patient," said Amy.
There is no timeline on how long dialysis might work for Amy. A fifth kidney transplant would mean she could once again be dialysis-free. "I expect Amy to get a transplant," said Josh, "I expect her to do things I've never seen before."
"When I look at my kids and my husband and all the great things God has for me out there," said Amy, "I know that he's not finished with me yet."
So, the battle will wage on for another transplant and another chance at life.
Amy undergoes a final round of tests at a Houston hospital this month to possibly be added to the kidney transplant wait list. She is currently in the hospital again for problems with other affected organs.
There is a way that you can help raise money for Amy's next transplant. A benefit will take place this Saturday, May 4 starting at 4 p.m. at Chateau de Bon Reve in Sulphur. From a silent auction, bake sale, kids zone and jambalaya cook-off, click here for the information.
Read more about Amy's story here.