Seven years. It’s been seven years, and Flyers fan Candice Smith is still in search of a living donor. Candice has been living with kidney disease for some time now, and is awaiting a new kidney through a living donor program.
This whole process started June 24, 1999, two weeks after Candice graduated high school. She started controlling her sugars on and off, until her high blood pressure developed.
“In 2011, I started noticing small signs like swelling in the ankles & migraines. October 2012, I had a biopsy done and Christmas of 2012, I met with the nephrologist and was told my options were either hemodialysis in a center three times a week, or peritoneal dialysis every night at home while I sleep.“
Candice was caught off-guard by the diagnosis. She knew that something was wrong, but didn’t realize it was anything serious past the high blood pressure and protein found in her urine. She came to the realization after the diagnosis that, “I need to plan how my life was changing with my son and family.”
Candice’s Search Finds the Flyers
The search for a kidney began on October 19th of 2019, Candice’s 39th birthday. She attended the Flyers game against the Dallas Stars that night, sign in hand, looking to find a donor. The sign, she made herself. She posted the following tweet, showing off the masterpiece before leaving for the game.
Candice arrived early, taking to the boards to watch the Flyers warm up before the game. Philly Sports Network photographer Alex McIntyre captured this shot, with Candice’s sign right behind captain Claude Giroux.
Despite her prime spot along the boards, Candice didn’t hear from anyone regarding a donation. Many well wishes, some coming from across the state, saying that this transcends the Penguins/Flyers rivalry. However, nothing in regards to a potential donor.
Two months had passed, and Candice hadn’t heard anything. She decided to take to Twitter once again, tagging the Flyers, Gritty, the Reading Royals, their mascot Slapshot, and the NHL. Lo and behold, Candice was retweeted by the official account of the Philadelphia Flyers.
” I was on cloud nine. I was so excited that they retweeted it.” The tweet gained a lot of traction on Twitter. She accumulated over 100 retweets, just over 80 likes, but only two replies, neither of which were potential donors.
Overall, one person has reached out to Candice as a potential donor, but they were not considered a match. “They had asked about the process so I had my transplant team send them a packet of info… I haven’t heard anything from anyone else or my transplant team about a potential donor.“
Candice’s Search Continues
While Candice is still searching for a donor, she keeps her head held high, knowing that one day, that donor will come.
“I’m a B+ (blood type). I use it as my mantra. ‘Be positive.'”
While the B+ blood type is preferred, she also can accept Type O blood. She adds that a “Paired Exchange Program” can be used as a method of getting a kidney as well. Let’s say that Person A has a donor, but the donor isn’t a match. Person B also has a donor lined up, but they don’t match either. Take the donors, swap them, and you may have a match.
The perfect donor is out there, and essential in Candice finding her kidney. According to Candice, if her potential transplant kidney fails, she will not be eligible for another kidney. While a cadaver kidney may become available, the wait list, as described by Smith, can be anywhere from two months to 10 years. It may go without saying, but a kidney is the most sought after organ for transplants, making her search even more difficult.
Finding a living donor is key to Candice. She describes, “Having a living donor is considered a better option for anyone. Live donor kidneys have a longer life span.”
The Meaning Behind a New Kidney
Candice’s main motivator behind receiving a kidney lies with her son. “My son, who has watched me being sick, would be so happy to not see me sick, and get to go back to a new normal routine and do things we couldn’t do while I am sick.” She says that a kidney would mean the world to her, giving her “another chance at living a semi-normal life.”
“You would be giving me other chance at life. You would be giving back a mother to her son. After (a potential) transplant, and if I’m healthy enough to do so, I want to run up the steps at the museum just like Rocky.“
True Philadelphia spirit embodies Candice. Her search to find a living kidney donor is unrelenting, just like the spirit of the city whose sports teams she cheers on. While she knows that there’s no cure for kidney disease, she knows that a new kidney gives her a better quality of life, and the potential to live a much longer life.
Candice’s lasting message to everyone who is considering donating is to do so if you can.
“I hope this gives you the courage to decide to become a donor. If you can donate now, that’s great. We need more people to be living kidney donors. If you cannot donate now, thats ok too. Don’t take your organs to heaven , heaven knows we need them here.“
If you are interested in finding out if you are a match with Candice for a potential kidney donation, reach out to KidneyForCandice@gmail.com.
Mandatory Credit – Alex McIntyre, Philly Sports Network