PIQUA — With no prior health problems, it was a mystery as to why Victoria Henderson was suffering from persistent fatigue over the past couple of years. A trip to the hospital last fall revealed an answer that no one saw coming.
“In October of 2017, I was admitted to the hospital because I wasn’t feeling very good,” she recalled. “They did some blood work and came across some bad numbers relating to my kidneys, and that’s really how it all began.”
The cause of Henderson’s renal failure was an even bigger mystery to her doctors. “They were not able to fix the problem and by the time I had a biopsy, there was so much scar tissue,” she said. “My kidneys were barely functioning at that point.”
At age 20, a time when most young adults are enjoying active social lives, the Piqua woman spends most of her time going to and from doctor’s appointments, and scheduling her scant free time around the 15 hours of dialysis she must do each day.
”It was really all of a sudden kind of sprung on me,” said Henderson, a 2015 graduate of Piqua High School now attending Edison State Community College, where she will graduate with an associate degree in accounting and business management next semester.
“I’d like to say it doesn’t affect me a lot, but before, I was always going out with my friends, working a full-time job, going to school full-time. It definitely has been hard because I used to be a very social person and now it’s a lot different.”
Until she finds a matching donor for a kidney transplant, the rigor and exhaustion that comes with dialysis, as well as taking more than a dozen prescription medications a day, are facts of life for Henderson. Getting out of the house to go to school gives her a reprieve, and her spirits are buoyed by her three dogs, an English Mastiff named Cain; Chloe, a mini Australian Shepherd; and Darcy, who’s a “dorkie” — half dachshund, half Yorkie. “It’s nice to have them around; they’re great company.”
In addition to her furry friends, there are two other key members of Henderson’s support team: her fiance, Michael Hicks, and her mom, Jill Middleton.
“Michael is happy to stay home with me; he’s stayed by my side this whole time. He is very supportive, and he pushes me to get through the treatments,” Henderson said. “He and my mom have really supported me through this whole thing; they give me words of encouragement.“
To be eligible for the transplant list, Henderson was required to take an informative class on the process, undergo an evaluation and see numerous doctors. “Once you’re medically cleared, you’re put on the list for a deceased donor,” she said. “You also can get living donors if you have people who want to do it. I actually have living donors who have sent in papers to OSU; if they find a match, they go ahead and schedule you for a transplant.”
In addition to her mother and an aunt, Henderson estimated there are more about 10-15 other people in the process of submitting their applications to see if they are a match. “I am grateful to have the support that I have,” Henderson said. “People from the community, family and friends … I feel very loved and supported.”
With medical bills mounting, the family has reached out to the community for assistance. The response they’ve received so far has been astounding, Middleton said. Their YouCaring campaign on Facebook — titled “Help Victoria Find a Kidney” — has raised nearly $2,000 of its $7,000 goal, and another fundraiser, a quarter auction, is planned for next week.
The quarter auction is set for Saturday, Feb. 17, at the Miami Valley Centre Mall in the former Fashion Bug. Doors open at 3 p.m. and the auction starts at 4 p.m.
“(The auction) started off so small. We started planning it in the banquet room. Our community has shown their true colors — not one business has turned down our request for donations. We’ve had more than 88 donations from business and (individuals). It’s awesome,” Middleton said.
”It humbles me to think that all these people are taking time out of their day and money out of their wallets. Victoria and I are very, very thankful to the city of Piqua, all the businesses and people that have supported us.”
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341 or firstname.lastname@example.org