Cincinnati woman seeking kidney donor after genetic disease affects family

“I just am holding on to my faith and just trying my very best to live day to day.”

Woman searching for kidney donor after genetic disease affected her family

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A Cincinnati woman is in the fight of her life, but a stranger could help save her.

Joanie Phillips said she has had symptoms of Alport Syndrome, a rare genetic disease that often leads to kidney failure, since she was a little girl.

Still, she said finding out that she needs a kidney transplant was difficult to take in.

“I just felt like the walls were closing in, and I had a really difficult time adjusting,” Phillips said. “It’s just been a pretty scary experience.”

Phillips said she is currently in full stage renal failure, which means she spends about nine hours a week on dialysis.

The almost 45-year-old already watched her grandmother, uncles, son and father go through it.

“My own father had five kidney transplants, and that’s how badly he wanted to stay on this earth,” she said. “My son actually had a kidney transplant when he was 15, the same illness, and so far, praise God, he’s doing well.”

Phillips, who helps veterans through her work at the VA, is teaming up with The Christ Hospital to find herself a donor. Family members are helping spread the word.

Phillips said she is relying on her faith and on her loved ones to get her through. In the meantime, she is encouraging others to never take simple things for granted because she said you never know when you won’t be able to do them anymore.

“I used to be a runner. I couldn’t run 10 feet right now without needing an oxygen tank,” she said.

“I just am holding on to my faith and just trying my very best to live day to day. To have a transplant would be the greatest gift. It would truly be a gift and an honor.”

Anyone interested in discovering if they could be a match for Phillips can contact Tricia Monson, BSN, RN at 513-585-1400 or Jessica Enzweiler, RN at 513-585-1427. Both are at the Christ Hospital Kidney Transplant Center.

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