JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Jill Sauceman is in stage five kidney disease, and to survive, she needs a donor.
Forty years ago, she graduated high school and looked forward to going to ETSU. But in the back of her mind, she knew something was wrong. "I wanted to ignore it and think, 'Oh everything will be just fine.' And when I went for my college physical, my doctor at the time said something is wrong from the urine test they had taken," she says.
Doctors diagnosed her with Systemic Lupus Erythematosis, an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks healthy tissue. But she considers herself a fighter. "When I was diagnosed, they told me that I'd probably be on a transplant list or need a kidney within 15 years of diagnosis, and it's been 40."
Now, she's looking to the community for help. After experiencing internal bleeding from her kidney, her condition is getting worse. "I found out that I have 10 percent kidney function. My nephrologist wanted to start dialysis at 10 percent, but I'm doing so well that he's going to let me tell him when I feel like it's necessary," she says.
She accepts dialysis could be in her future, but hopes a kidney transplant comes first. It's not an easy match for donors. She has type O blood, so she needs an O kidney.
But she assures people that doctors have told her donating a kidney is safe. "You can live with one kidney, people are born with one kidney, they have babies with one kidney," she says.
Sauceman says she loves life and doesn't want to give up on it. Around her neck, she wears her "hope" for a donor. "There is a faith charm telling me not to give up faith that a kidney will be found for me one day," she says.
Sauceman made a Facebook page for her cause called "Jill's Journey: Quest for a Kidney."
If you are interested in being a kidney donor for Sauceman, eligible donors must have type O blood, be younger than 70, not have high blood pressure, not be diabetic, and be in good physical condition.
Contact the Vanderbilt University Medical Center to be tested at 1-866-748-1491 and select Option 2. All information provided is confidential.