'I'm looking for my next hero': Kitchener teacher takes to social media looking for kidney donor
A Kitchener teacher who is in need of a kidney transplant has taken to social media hoping to find a donor.
Vanessa Bailey, who teaches Grade 2 at St. John Catholic Elementary School, was diagnosed with interstitial nephritis, a hereditary kidney disease at 14 years old.
“[My kidneys] are not processing the bacteria out of my body,” she said.
Ten years ago, Bailey got her first kidney transplant from her cousin.
But a few weeks ago, her doctor told her she’s in need of a new transplant.
“I’m looking for my next hero. Someone who is O+ or O- blood type and is willing to save my life,” Bailey told CTV News.
The Kidney Foundation said typically, it’s best to get an organ donation from a family member, but Bailey does not have that option. Her mom, sister and niece all have the same disease, and her dad already donated his kidney to her mother.
“I don’t really have any family members left to rely on, their kidneys have all been used," she said.
The foundation said the wait list for a kidney from a deceased person is four years, adding a donation from a live person would speed up that process by three years.
Bailey posted to social media, hoping to find a match.
“I swallowed my pride and wrote a post, and it just went wild,” she said. “The amount of support and love and prayers and phone calls…wow it’s been really overwhelming.”
While she said many people have expressed interest, she has not found a match yet, but she is remaining hopeful.
The Grade 2 teacher is now on dialysis at Grand River Hospital, and on leave from work, until she gets a new kidney.
“The worst part of this whole journey has been for me to leave my students and their families.” Bailey said. “I’ve done the dialysis before, I’ve done the transplant before, but now that I have my dream career and my dream class of the most wonderful grade two students, having to leave that was the most dreadful thought.”
But, she said the support she is getting from her school community is helping her stay positive. Staff members, and parents have offered to give her rides to the hospital or to pick up groceries, and students sent her letters of support.
“The special connections that we make with each other and that [Bailey] has made with students and parents and staff have really driven people to want to support and help her,” said Paul Gladding, principal at Bailey's school.
Bailey said she hopes she finds her donor soon, so she can get back to doing what she loves, teaching.