Help Cindy Walker Find A Matching Kidney Donor


Cindy's Background:

1.) What is your age? - I’m 54, but will be 55 in May 2017.

2.) Do you have children or grandchildren? - I do not have any biological kids, but thousands of students over the 32 years of teaching art and reading (600 x 32= 19,200). Those are my kids.

3.) How long have you been married? - I am single and have never been married.

4.) Are you on Dialysis Currently? - I am waiting for my fistula to heal. Currently my kidneys are functioning at 11%.

5.) What type of Dialysis do you currently conduct? - Hemodialysis in center was what I chose.

6.) What emotional toll has Kidney Failure had on you? - Well it was a shock. I went from being stage 1 to stage 5 in 3 months. To keep my spirits up, I am using this experience as a teaching tool for students. I like to remind them how important it is to eat healthy and how much their kidneys do in their bodies.

7.) If you could talk to someone who is interested in donating to you, what would you say? - First of all, Thank you for considering to do this. It takes a compassionate and strong individual to even think about doing this. I would be forever grateful. My students would be grateful. They ask every time they come to my Art class for updates. Many of them offered to donate and I explained that they are too young.

8.) What is your blood type? - I am an O blood type, but Northwestern does the donor swap system and if a donor does not match me they will find someone that matches the donor and swap their living donor to me if they match me. The longest swap involved 14 donors and 14 recipients. As soon as Jaime gets back to me with my blood type I will let you know.

9.) Where are you listed (name of Transplant Center)? - In Chicago, IL, Northwestern Medicine Kovlor Organ Transplant Center, (312) 695-0828, fax (312) 695-0036, or the website is My Pre-Kidney Transplant Nurse coordinator is Jaime Bennett,

10.) Once you receive your Kidney, what do you plan on doing with your future? - I plan to keep on teaching Reading and Art to inner city impoverished K-6th grade students. I also want to increase awareness of Kidney disease through my personal art.

11.) What happened that caused you to need a Kidney Transplant? - I have been a diabetic for over 30 years. I also believe heredity is involved a little as my father’s twin sister had kidney failure after 35 years of being diabetic. She unfortunately died while waiting for a kidney.

12.) Do you have a specific religion or religious affiliation? - I am a Christian.

13.) How has Kidney Failure/Dialysis impacted your quality of life? - I have had to step away from several important committees and missed several days of work because of doctor appointments, iron infusions, and fistula surgery. I do get tired quicker than I used to before kidney failure.

14.) What is the first thing that you plan on doing after you have recovered from your Kidney Transplant Surgery? - Get back to work with “my kids.” Providing a good education ensures a great future for all of us.

15.) Important Facts? - All of my teaching career I have worked with students that have special needs. My first 5 years of teaching in Wisconsin, I worked at St. Coletta School for students with mental disabilities. When I moved to Elgin and started teaching in school district U-46, continued my work with special needs students and helped to train the other art teachers. Today I work in a school with over 90% lower socio-economic population. I want to keep giving back to society through teaching my students.

A Note From Cindy:


Thank you for expressing interest and showing your support of my need for a living kidney donor. 

I am listed at Northwestern Medicine Kovlor Organ Transplant Center (Chicago, IL) and I would like you to know that the process of living kidney donation is safe, and if you or someone you know would like to donate, then please contact my transplant center at (312) 695-0828.

For further questions, please send me a message (below). Thanks again!



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Hear From An Expert:

Video Testimonial:

Kidney transplant recipient Kelly Belgrave and her lifelong friend, now fiancée Netfa Rickets tell the story of how Netfa became a living donor and donated one of his kidneys to Kelly, when her kidneys began to fail due to diabetes. Visit the Organ Donor Awareness Campaign:

Written Testimonial:

Jeff, a 34-year-old living donor, shares what he went through when donating a kidney for his brother Mark, who is 38.

My brother has had type 1 diabetes since he was 12 years old. My family knew he might have kidney failure someday. But it happened a lot sooner than we expected. One day his creatinine levels jumped from 2 to 6.8. So, we got slapped in the face with the reality that he was going to have to go on dialysis.

As soon as my sister and I heard the news, we said "OK, let’s find out if one of us can be a donor." There was no hesitation at all. My sister and I actually had a contest going as to who was going to win and get to donate.

I got out of the hospital three days after the surgery. I stayed at my parent’s house for a week and a half. My kids were five and six months at the time. And I was worried my five year old would be jumping all over me wanting to play. So I thought it would be best for me to recover at my parent’s.

That first week I slept a lot. Mark came by to visit every day. He lives very close to my parents. His recovery seemed to go about four times easier than mine. He’d come over and tease me, saying "Hey man, you look like hell."

I planned on going back to work in two weeks. I have a desk job so it’s not like I do physical labor. But that first day back at work, I was only able to work for three hours, and I was beat. But it got better each day. I was back at work full time three weeks after the surgery.

Seven months after the surgery, I’m back to my normal activities. I run and golf for exercise, play around with my kids, and have a few beers on occasion.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Who can be a donor?

To qualify as a living donor, an individual must be in good health, free from any serious medical problems and between the ages of 21 and 60.

What are the risks involved?

Donating a kidney does not have any long-term effect on health. Donors may experience a slight rise in blood pressure and a small amount of excess protein in the urine following surgery. There is no greater risk of developing kidney failure after donating at kidney than anyone in the general population.

Are there activities that I will not be able to do in the future if I choose to donate a kidney?

In general, donating a kidney does not have any long-term effect on health. Some restrictions do apply following donor surgery, including reducing or eliminating the use of NSAIDS and avoiding any activity that may cause injury to the surgical area.

Does the evaluation process have to be completed at Penn?

The entire evaluation process is completed at Penn; however, if the prospective donor lives at a distance, arrangements can be made for some of the initial screening to be done at the donor's location.

Who makes the final decision on potential donors?

Based on the evaluation results, the Transplant team (comprised of nephrologists, nurses, social workers, dieticians and other transplant specialists) decides whether or not to proceed with a living donor kidney transplant as the best therapeutic option.

Who pays for the donor's medical expenses?

The recipient's insurance covers all of the donor's evaluation and hospitalization costs; however, it does not cover lost income, transportation costs or personal expenses. The transplant financial advisor reviews the potential donor/recipient procedures and associated costs carefully prior to the evaluation.

How long will I be in the hospital?

Most donors remain in the hospital for two to three days.

What is the recovery process like?

Most kidney donors resume normal activities four to six weeks after surgery. Donors are not able to drive for three to four weeks after discharge and are not permitted to lift heavy objects. You may need assistance with daily living activities during this time.

How long will I be out of work?

Depending on the nature of the work, donors typically return to work between 10 days and two weeks.

What happens if I decide not to become a living liver donor?

At any point, for any reason, the evaluation process can be stopped. The recipient will remain active on the transplant list and is free to find another potential living donor.

Shocking Stats:

Chief Medical Officer (United Network for Organ Sharing) Dr. David Klassen (Nephrologist) said in a Huffington Post article, "I’ve also witnessed the results of the severe organ shortage in this country. Too often I’ve lost patients because the organ they needed did not come in time. Too many lives cut short. Too many dreams unlived." The following are a few very sobering stats which Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients should share as well as their loved ones:

90,000 - The number of Dialysis patients that die every year according to Renal and Urology News. 

121,076 - The number of people currently waiting for a lifesaving organ in the United States, as reported by the United Network for Organ Sharing. 

100,269 - The number of patients awaiting a Kidney Transplant specifically. This suggests that approximately 80.9% of the entire organ transplant waiting list is made of individuals in need of a kidney. It is important to note that living kidney donation is very safe and if found to be a match, a donor would undergo a rigorous health evaluation before donating to ensure good long-term health outcomes.

22 - The number of people who die every single day, waiting for a transplant.

4,500 - The number of Chronic Kidney Disease patients that die every year waiting for a kidney transplant, as noted by the Living Kidney Donor Network.

6 - The number of people added to the transplant wait list every hour, reported by Huffington Post.

0 (zero) - The number of major religions that are against their members donating an organ. All major organized religions in the United States are favorable of organ and tissue donation and most likely consider it an act of charity.

The Need For Living Kidney Donors

“There are about 90,000 people waiting for kidney transplants in the United States,” says Dr. Gibney. “There are about 14,000 kidney transplants a year. Each year, more people are in need of organs and get added to that list.

So that’s one of the things that makes living donation so important is that there’s a fairly limited supply of organs. If there are friends or family members who can give, that can save lives and really extend people’s lives by years and years.”


If you would like to share Cindy's story via your publication, then please send a direct message below.

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