At 27, Melissa Collins of Millsboro thought she would be raising her children, not fighting for her life.
The Savannah Animal Hospital receptionist was diagnosed with a hereditary kidney disease, and over the last year, her condition has deteriorated. Now on dialysis, Melissa's friends are joining together to raise money and awareness for the mother of two.
"We want to raise money to help her pay bills when she misses work for dialysis, but we also want to raise awareness about the need for more organ donors," said Briten Clews, manager at Savannah Animal Hospital.
Collins is on the list for a new kidney through the Christiana Care network, but she is also hoping Cape Region residents will get tested to see if they could be a donor.
"Even if they aren't a match for me, they could help someone else who is waiting," Collins said.
Her sister, Holly Hammond, received a kidney transplant in 2007. Hammond and Collins both had high blood pressure and protein in their urine, but the disease, FSGS – focal segmental glomerulosclerosis – was not diagnosed until Hammond became very sick.
Once Hammond was diagnosed, she immediately called Collins and told her to get tested as well.
"They did blood work and a kidney biopsy on me at Johns Hopkins, and that's when I found out I had it as well," Collins said. "I'm on medication to try to stop the progression of the disease."
As she has gotten sicker, it became clear a kidney transplant would be her only option, Collins said.
On Sunday, March 24, her friends at Savannah, are hosting a fundraiser from 1 to 4 p.m. at The Point, Lewes Church of Christ's location at Oyster Rocks Road and Route 1 north of Milton.
The event will feature more than 20 vendors, including Mary Kay, Tastefully Simple, Pampered Chef and Pink Zebra, as well as raffles, a silent auction and 50/50 drawing. Food will be provided by Big Al's Roast Beef, and Savannah employees are hosting a bake sale.
Proceeds from the event will help Melissa cover her bills as she takes time off for dialysis, and in the event she receives a kidney, the money will help her during the two months she will miss work.
In addition to raising money, organizers hope the event will raise awareness of the need for organ donors. Melissa hopes someone who hears her story contacts the Christiana Care network to sign up as an organ donor, said Briten Clews, manager of Savannah Animal Hospital and organizer of the fundraiser.
To find out about organ donation, contact Emily Pruitt, living donor coordinator, at 302-623-3866 or firstname.lastname@example.org.