A life changing Christmas present

DUNKIRK, N.Y. (WIVB) – When Jessie Frysz applied for a new job, she never thought it would bring her one step closer to saving her life.

One month in at the Westfield Veterinary Clinic, Jessie’s boss decided she was going to help her.

“The more she talked, the more interested I became in saying I could be the person that could make a difference here,” Dr. Sarah Johnson, the owner of the clinic said. “It will be a little bit of a stretch, but I’m financially able to take the time off of work to do it. Why not me.”

Jessie is in dire need of a kidney. She was diagnosed with a rare disease, known as Atypical Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome at 11-months-old. As a result, Jessie has no kidneys and has been on dialysis since she was an infant. Her doctor says she may not be able to survive much longer on it.

“I only have one vascular access which allows me to be hooked to the machine. If that shuts down, there’s no guarantee they can get another one in,” Jessie said.

After learning about what it takes to donate a kidney, Dr. Johnson, who’s a wife and mother of 4, went through a series of tests and found out she wasn’t a match for Jessie.

“It was just a big letdown. Disappointment is the best way to sum that up,” she said.

But all hope is not lost. Physicians at Johns Hopkins told Dr. Johnson about the Paired Kidney Exchange Program. “It’s where they take two pairs or more of incompatible donors and basically swap recipients and kidneys.”

Dr. Johnson’s kidney will go to another patient in need, and it increases Jessie’s chances of getting one.
Johnson will travel from Dunkirk to Baltimore for surgery in two weeks.

“It’s something huge. How often for Christmas can you give somebody such a big difference in their life. Give the gift of life.”

Jessie said there are no words to express how grateful she is for Dr. Johnson’s generosity. In the meantime, she is waiting for her kidney to come through.

Now that Dr. Johnson has stepped up, doctors say it could take up to 2 years for them to find the right match for Jessie.

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