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Star woman spreading awareness on the importance of living organ donation

An estimated 90,000 people across America are waiting for a kidney donor
Posted at 6:55 PM, Jun 25, 2024

STAR, IDHAO — One woman who is on the long waitlist for a new kidney is spreading awareness about living organ donation so that more people have the opportunity to receive a second chance at a healthy life.

  • Tasha Vraspir was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease at age 4 AND is currently on the waitlist for a new kidney which she says could take at least two more years.
  • An estimated 90,000 people across America are waiting for a kidney donor.
  • Vraspir started a YouTube channel to share her journey with the disease and transplant process and she's working with St Luke’s to start a PKD Community and Support group in the Treasure Valley.

(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)

Experts estimate chronic kidney disease affects 1 in 7 Americans, which is an estimated 37 million people in the country and as you can imagine, it takes a long time for patients to find a match and get a transplant. I'm your Star neighborhood reporter Alexander Huddleston and I talked with a Star woman on the waitlist who hopes to spread awareness about living organ donation.

Tasha and Matt Vraspir travel to Salt Lake City often, but it's not for vacation. It's for treatment.

"I have polycystic kidney disease," Tasha said "It's a genetically inherited disease, I got from my dad. I was diagnosed when I was 4."

Cysts grow on Tasha's kidneys, weakening them until there are more damaged parts than healthy ones.

Tasha explained, "Right now my kidney function is around 18%. Once you get to 15% or less, that is when it is considered actual kidney failure. So they start doing the transplant referral and work up around 20%."

Surpassing that mark, Tasha started the complicated process of finding a transplant.

"Probably around 90,000 people are listed as waiting for a kidney in this country," said Dr. Donald Morris of Intermountain Health.

A lot of Idahoans register as organ donors at the DMV but that only applies after death, so Tasha spends time spreading awareness about living organ donors. She even started a YouTube channel and speaks publicly about her condition.

Dr. Morris says many people can live long, healthy lives after donating an organ like a kidney.

Morris explained, "It allows them to have a much shorter wait time than to wait for a deceased donor. On average they do better than a deceased donor because they come from a living donor. They are not injured at the time of the donation."

"Obviously it is a major sacrifice and it is a personal decision, but it is something that can literally save a person's life," said Tasha.

Dr. Morris added, "When somebody gets a kidney transplant compared to staying on dialysis, their life expectancy doubles."

Tasha’s husband Matt hoped he'd be her match. Unfortunately, he can't help her. But he does plan to donate a kidney to help Tasha move up on the list.

"For me, it's joy. I'm excited to do it. I get to give somebody else a chance. I get to give somebody else a chance at life," exclaimed Matt.

If you're inspired to find out if you are a match for someone on the waitlist, click here.