Woman seeks live kidney donor

Special Photo Jennifer Wilkes was diagnosed with Goodpasture's syndrome three years ago.

Special Photo Jennifer Wilkes was diagnosed with Goodpasture's syndrome three years ago.

SUWANEE -- Jennifer Wilkes admits she's had her days, when she wonders "a million times, why me?"

But she's also found strengths and positives about herself in the last three years since she was diagnosed with Goodpasture's syndrome, an autoimmune disease that attacks kidneys and lungs. Wilkes, 28, who works part time at her father's store in Suwanee, Wilkes Meat Market, was admitted late last month to the transplant program at Piedmont Hospital.

On dialysis three days per week, Wilkes is looking for a live kidney donor. Wilkes, a graduate of Parkview High School and Georgia Southern University, takes about 30 medications per day and dialysis takes up nearly the entire day, from preparation to recovery.

"Dialyisis is definitely not for me, I'm an active person and it's turned my life upside down," she said. "I've always been involved in health care and nursing and taking care of others. God just needs me a little stronger to do something really cool."

Her mother, Judy, said after a Facebook page was setup in her daughter's honor, and the Gwinnett Braves put on a fundraiser, the response from strangers has been "unbelievably amazing."

"It tears you in a lot of different ways," Judy said. "The stress is terrible. You bond more, you love more, you appreciate more."

To suppress Goodpastures, Wilkes has taken steroid and chemotherapy treatments, but she added that her diagnosis may be to help other dialysis patients.

"Maybe God wants me to focus my time on changing the face of dialysis," she said. "It's a very hard regime, and a lot of people who are going through this aren't as young as I am."

Wilkes does dialysis treatments on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. She works at Wilkes Meat Market cooking a hot deli homestyle lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and she also works at the store on Saturdays.

She calls Sundays her "fun days" when she enjoys getting outside, or watching a movie with her boyfriend.

To become a live donor, a match consists of blood and tissue, and the person must have an EKG, cat scan and other tests to qualify as a healthy donor, Judy said. Wilkes' blood type is A-positive, her mother said, and the live donor coordinator at Piedmont Hospital is Barbara O'Neal, who can be reached at 404-605-4128.