A Perfect Match

Organ Donor Gives Jamestown Resident New Lease On Life

Karen Misko recently was informed that she will receive a new kidney transplant. Pictured are Misko, left, and her longtime friend, Laurie Frederick-Taylor. P-J photo by William Mohan

Two women with regional connections have had their lives changed.

Jamestown resident Karen Misko recently found a compatible out-of-state donor for a new kidney transplant. The news came as a relief to Misko, who has been on dialysis for years. Even more surprising is that the search revealed a donor from the region.

Misko’s troubles started in 2006 when she suffered severe kidney damage due to her pre-existing diabetes. She had a medical operation and was put on dialysis for the first time. Her regular treatments lasted 19 months. In 2008, Misko received a double transplant of a kidney and pancreas. That kidney transplant began to fail around 2012 and both kidneys had five percent functionality.

On Dec. 18, 2016, Misko had another operation that cleared her of diabetes but left her with end stage five renal failure. She was put on dialysis again and has been receiving treatments for 25 months.

“I sit there and watch my blood go through two veins and you can feel how hot it is coming in and out of my body,” Misko said.

Lacey Mason of Sumter, S.C., is donating her kidney to Misko. Submitted photo

But while she was stabilized with regular dialysis treatments, she knew that a new kidney transplant would help her in the long run. Her previous kidney transplant that was now failing her was received from a cadaver donor.

Organs received from cadaver donors can work for a recipient but need to be restarted and can take days to start functioning. Live donor organs perform immediately and last longer, according to the Cleveland Clinic’s Transplant Center.

According to the National Kidney Registry, the list of cadaver donors often is longer compared to live ones. Because of the shortage of live donors, finding a new kidney was beginning to weaken Misko’s spirit.

“I was giving up,” Misko said.

Misko had support from friends in the region. Her biggest support came from her friend, Laurie Frederick-Taylor, of Randolph. She has been by her side from the very beginning.

Tired of seeing her endure dialysis treatments, Frederick-Taylor was determined to find a donor for Misko. She posted a request for a donor on Facebook and set up a crowdfunding page. On the page she asked for anyone to test for kidney donor compatibility. It was Frederick-Taylor’s determination that led to a life changing event for Misko.

Lacey Mason of Sumter, S.C., took the donor test and was found to be a match. Since finding out the results, Mason has been in constant contact with Misko and Frederick-Taylor. The testing coupled with the results took four weeks to reach Misko.

“This is the light at the end of my tunnel,” Misko said. “I have more scars than a road map but I’m okay with it.”

Mason is originally from Chautauqua County. Her mother found the crowdfunding page and shared it with her. In addition, Frederick-Taylor had known an aunt of Mason’s for years and in turn, Misko knew her as well. After seeing the page, Mason thought she had to help in any way she could.

“I thought I could possibly change her life for the better,” Mason said.

After three weeks, the results came back, and when she learned they were positive, she was excited. She knew she was going to help Misko live a better life.

“I am extremely ecstatic about the whole thing,” Mason said.

The surgery will be performed at the Transfer Center at the Cleveland Clinic. Because federal law restricts the release of medical information, the date of the surgery can’t be mentioned by the Cleveland Clinic. However, Misko told The Post-Journal that the surgery is in the near future.

“They told me that the only time I will hear from them is when they schedule the surgery and they expect me there,” Misko said

Misko expressed thanks to Frederick-Taylor, the staff of Devita at UPMC Chautauqua, her friends Connie Babbcock and Roxanne Morse and others who have provided her medical and moral support over the years. Misko is especially thankful to Mason for being willing to donate and actively participate in the transplant process.

“She’s my angel,” Misko said of Mason.

“She’s been real good about keeping in touch with us everyday,” Frederick-Taylor said.

The next step is ensuring Mason is at the Cleveland Clinic for the surgery. In addition to the procedure, Mason has to do further compatibility testing a week prior. There are many outlets available that will help pay for Mason’s travel and lodging.

A gofundme account has been established by Mason’s mother, Audrey Privitera. A Facebook fundraiser has also been organized by Frederick-Taylor. Donations can be made in person at the Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union, 1283 E. Second St., Jamestown. All three accounts will be used to pay for Mason and her parents to travel to the Cleveland Clinic.