HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) – A Hastings woman has been suffering with an uncurbable kidney disease for almost 10 years and in need of a life-saving transplant. If received, this would be Jalen Walker’s second kidney transplant.
Walker found out about her kidney disease when she wanted to join the National Guard in high school. Her mother, Janice Dart described her as a bubbly and talkative kid growing up. In fact, she said they called her Talky-Taffy. She was an energetic and outgoing person.
Now, Walker is on dialysis while the search for a donor continues. She has been on dialysis for three years, and has already experienced a kidney transplant surgery when her brother donated his kidney to her in November 2021.
Complications led to Jalen taking medicine for her body rejecting her new kidney. Her blood type is O negative, but she can receive a transplant from any blood type. Jalen’s kidney disease has effected every part of her body and life.
“Just over the course of time, you know it just gets harder and harder and so I actually went to part-time in September (2022), and then I had an issue with my heart in May (2023) and at that point I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to work much longer,” said Walker.
Walker’s heart condition is pericarditis. She said being physically limited is hard for her because she’s an outgoing person. She also said her kidney disease is unique because it shows symptoms of Primary FSGS and Minimal Change Disease.
She said it’s tough to go to the doctor and hear more dialysis is needed. But she’s doing everything possible to stay happy and active. Her mother was her caregiver after the first transplant and said Walker struggled to gain the proper nutrients.
“It seemed like we were in the emergency room every other day that week and again it was just that helpless feeling,” said Dart. “You know we had some doctors and nurses that were there to guide us but at the end of the day, they were not there taking care of her at two o’clock in the morning.”
Dart said dialysis is taking a toll on her daughter, as she recalls times when Walker wanted to quit. She said as a mother, it’s scary to hear your child wanting to quit on something helping them live. Walker is 26 years old, and if she doesn’t receive a transplant she could die within two years.
Her kidney disease also prevents her from carrying children. Walker said having to live everyday knowing life could end before she reaches 30, has an effect on her mental health.
“Recently within this like last month it’s just been especially tough just knowing that I’m not going to get to get better at this point,” said Walker. “You know just knowing that there’s no possible way for me to ensure that I can be healthier besides having a transplant.”
Walker doesn’t sleep well because she’s unsure about her future. She relies on her family to help keep her in good spirits. She said going see her mom every night keeps her mental health in a good place until they can find a match for her transplant. Her mother Janice is a teacher at Blue Hill Community School and they have even offered support for Walker.
“Other teachers check in with me daily, weekly and say ‘How’s Jalen doing?’ ‘Where are we at with a donor?’ ‘What can I do to help?’ When she had her first transplant they took up a donation for us to help us out with medical cost which was wonderful,” said Dart.
Dart said the school has a prayer group every Tuesday morning and the group always prays for Walker.
To become a donor sign up online at https://www.mayoclinic.org/
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