BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A local mother with a rare disease is fighting to find a new kidney, but this isn’t her first time racing against the clock to find a donor for the life-saving organ.
Velinda Carey is searching for her second kidney after her body rejected the one from her first transplant, 10 years ago. Her search is complicated by her uncommon B+ blood type, so it could take her years to move up on the transplant list — years that she might not have.
“I didn’t want to go through it again, I didn’t. It just reminded me of everything that happened the first time, and I have two kids this time,” she said, holding back tears.
That’s how Velinda said she felt the moment she found out her kidney had shut down and she needed to go through the pain of a transplant for a second time.
Velinda was born with the disease FSGS, where scar tissue develops on the part of the kidneys that filters waste. Ten years ago, she received a kidney donation from a high school friend, but in 2018, she contracted sepsis. Since then, her health has gone downhill.
Her kidney stored working this year, forcing her to resume dialysis three times a week, including painful catheters. She has had six surgeries within the last few months.
In spite of all this, what she is worried about most right now is her two sons, ages six and 15.
“It’s hard to sit down and have to talk to a 6-year-old and tell him, ‘Mommy might not wake up one day, and if you see Mommy and you can’t wake Mommy up, I don’t want you to be upset, I want you to call Granny, I want you to call your god daddy, let them know something is wrong with Mommy,'” Velinda said. “That’s something you don’t want to have to tell your children.”
Velinda’s mom, Catrina Carey, has shown up for her on every step of this health journey.
“Not being able to donate [my own kidney] to her is very hard because you can’t save your child, and you want to save your child. You feel helpless because you can’t do anything,” Carey said.
The mother and daughter are no strangers to heartbreak. In 2020, Catrina’s son and Velinda’s brother was murdered.
“This is my only child [now] … I would give her both of [my kidneys], I would rather see myself go than see her go before me,” Catrina said.
If you want to find out if you could be a match, call UAB’s Living Donor Program. She is also on the transplant list at Vanderbilt Kidney and Liver Transplant Center in Nashville, Tennessee, and the Ascension Sacred Heart Kidney Transplant Center in Pensacola, Florida.