“We just need one match:” friends put Leon County woman’s search for kidney on billboards

Published: Mar. 23, 2021 at 10:14 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A call for help, flashing high in the sky. Drivers in Tallahassee may have noticed a recent digital billboard featuring a Leon County woman in dire need of a kidney transplant.

Missy Timmins is in her 50s living with Polycystic Kidney Disease. It’s a hereditary disease. Her mother and two brothers have it. Her late grandmother had the disease, too.

Diagnosed decades ago, Timmins said she knew a transplant later in life could be needed. But she suffers from a more aggressive form of the disease. In 2016, she was told it was already time to look for a donor.

But five years later, she’s still waiting.

“I really thought it would be over now,” she said.

Her difficult journey isn’t without a supportive group of friends and family by her side. One life-long friend, Brad Ray, was willing to donate his kidney right away.

“I would cut it out myself tomorrow if I could,” he said.

But Brad’s blood type isn’t a match for Timmins. So he signed up for a Paired Donation program, seeking a similar pair anywhere in the country that could open more doors to get Timmins the kidney she needs.

But even that proved fruitless. Still, Timmins is grateful for Ray’s willingness to help.

“There are no words to tell someone who is willing to donate a part of themselves to save your life,” she said.

Her situation become more serious last year. After several planned transplants canceled at the last second, Timmins came down with COVID-19.

“The COVID has destroyed what’s left of the kidney function I had left,” she said.

Timmins completes eleven hours of at-home dialysis treatment a day. She said a more intrusive dialysis treatment may be in her future as her condition deteriorates.

Her friends knew she needs a kidney now more than ever. So a few got together and came up with the idea for the billboard.

“It was one of those duh factors of ten,” Ray said. “Why didn’t we do this three years ago?”

Timmins said the publicity has already produced viable leads. Multiple people are in the early stages of seeing if they could be a match. But having been burned before, Timmins is cautiously optimistic.

“It’s been an adventure,” she said. “A long haul.”

A journey that hopefully nears an end.

For more information on that journey, visit her Facebook page.

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