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Kentucky Family Receives Kidney Transplants

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Terry Prather, The Ledger Independent
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A Lewis County woman is the fifth member of her family to receive a kidney transplant, due to a disease called Alport Syndrome.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, Alport Syndrome is a rare kidney disease that only arises in about one in 50,000 people in the United States.

In 2012, registered nurse and mother of four Amanda Collier of Vanceburg had just given birth to her fourth child when her kidneys began to fail. In October 2014, Collier was referred to the University of Kentucky Hospital Transplant Center.

After testing was completed, Collier was told by doctors that her kidney was 99 percent sensitized due to the high amount of antibodies in her blood, meaning she would not be a match for 99 percent of the country's donors.

However, on Dec. 31, 2014, Collier received a phone call saying a donor with a possible match had been found. By 7 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2015, Collier was in the operating room receiving her new kidney.

"I couldn't believe it," she said. "I was shocked that a donor had been found so fast. I was told it could take years and I might be on dialysis for a long time before a kidney could be found. But, I never had to go on dialysis."

Collier, her grandmother, father, sister, two uncles, two oldest children and several young cousins are all affected by the disease that damages the kidneys, eyes and hearing.

Of those carrying the disease, Collier and her grandmother have each had one kidney transplant, Collier's father and one uncle have both had two transplants and one uncle has had three transplants.

Those who do not have the disease have, in most instances, been donors for the family members needing new kidneys.

"I've known all my life that I had this," Collier said. "My grandmother had her kidney transplant at the age of 42. My father had his first transplant at 22 within months of my grandmother."

The disease is also more aggressive in men than in women, according to Collier.

"It moves faster in men," Collier said. "My dad was pretty young when he had his first transplant. He has a hard time hearing, as do both of my uncles and they all have troubles with their eyesight. It's something that will eventually happen to everyone that has it, but it seems to be faster in men."

According to Collier, her family carries the strain of Alport known as the X-strain, which means all women in the family can pass the disease on to their children, but men can only pass it on to a daughter.

"So, if one of the men in the family has this and has only sons, it will stop with the father," she said, "because it can't be passed on to boys from the father."

Having undergone a kidney transplant has made her a stronger supporter of organ donations, Collier said.

"I've always been a proponent of organ donations," she said. "Even more so now. Only 25 percent of Vanceburg residents are (registered to be) organ donors and only 45 percent of Mason County. That's not a high number."

Collier said she is thankful that organ transplants have all been available for her family.

"We're really lucky that we've all been able to get the transplants when we've needed them," she said. "This is a very rare thing, especially to have this many transplants. I still have to explain what Alport Syndrome is with some of my doctors because it's so rare, so I've very thankful."

"We're all thankful," Collier's grandmother, Doris Liles, said. "God has truly blessed our family. Without him, we would not be where we are. He has kept us blessed and we're thankful for that."

A benefit for Collier will be held at Central Elementary School at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 6.

During the benefit, there will be quarter auction, several vendors and a performance by the Amber's Angels Cloggers. Food will be for sale from various vendors throughout the evening as well.

The Ledger Independent is online at: http://www.maysville-online.com