Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2014

Fairfield woman raises money for kidney disease

By ANDY HALLMAN | Oct 07, 2013

A Fairfield resident has organized a fundraiser for kidney disease.

Jami Kaelin is one of the two women to organize the Southeast Iowa Kidney Walk, which is Saturday in Ottumwa. This is the second year of the Southeast Iowa Kidney Walk, which raised more than $5,000 its first year in 2012. Kaelin and her co-worker Kristin Wilson are working hard to make the event even more successful than before.

The fundraising goal was $5,000 last year, but Kaelin and Wilson have doubled it to $10,000 this year. The money goes to the National Kidney Foundation of Iowa.

Registration for the walk starts at 9 a.m. and the walk itself begins at 10 a.m. at the Jimmy Jones Pavilion in Ottumwa. In addition to the walk, the organizers will have kids’ activities such as the Community 1st Credit Union train, face painting and games. They will raffle off gift baskets containing items that have been donated by businesses in southeast Iowa. No fee is charged to sign up for the walk, which can be done in person and online at www.kidneywalk.org.

Kaelin’s drive to raise money for kidney disease is personal. She has a rare kidney disease called dense deposit disease, which she was diagnosed with 22 years ago. In 1999, she received a kidney transplant, but that kidney failed a year later.

Fortunately, Kaelin found a matching donor and underwent another kidney transplant in 2001. On Wednesday, Kaelin will celebrate the 12th anniversary of the transplant that saved her life.

When Kaelin was looking for people to help start a fundraiser, she learned that her co-worker Wilson has a kidney disease called hydronephrosis, which she was born with.

Wilson received a new kidney a little more than two years ago. Her cousin wanted to donate his kidney to her, and when he went in for the surgery, doctors discovered a cancerous spot on his kidney. The family was relieved because the spot would have likely gone undetected much longer had he not gone in for surgery. Because of this early detection, doctors were able to remove the cancerous spot from his kidney.

The most recent addition to Kaelin and Wilson’s team to fight kidney disease is Jamie Scott. They met Scott at the fundraiser in 2012 and learned she has polycystic kidney disease. She found out she had the disease when she went to donate a kidney to her then boyfriend, who was battling kidney disease. Doctors discovered she, too, had a problem with her kidney when they ran tests on her.

“We think our stories are actually a perfect example about why the walk is so important,” Kaelin said. “Kristin and I would have never even realized we both fought a similar battle if it weren’t for a company newsletter where we both revealed that a little known fact about us was that we had a kidney transplant.

“We would have passed Jamie a hundred times around town, and never realized what we all had in common,” Kaelin continued. “Kidney disease and kidney cancer are both silent. You can feel very alone in the battle, but we are hoping that by bringing everyone together we can offer support to those going through it (and to their family and friends). Since many of the symptoms of kidney disease can be missed or chalked up to something else, we hope to get awareness so people can be more aware and hopefully catch it sooner rather than later.”

The organizers of Saturday’s event have created a Facebook with more information about the event, which can be accessed at www.facebook.com/southeastiowakidneywalk.

 

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