ELIZABETHTOWN — Oct. 5 is D-Day, “Donation Day,” for sisters, Shannon Bronson, 54, of Elizabethtown and Tracy Reen, 56, of Milton, Vt.
Shannon has polycystic kidney disease or PKD, and Tracy, as a live donor, will donate one of her kidneys to save Shannon from the ravages of PKD, a genetic illness with no known cure that causes kidneys to enlarge and lose function, which has killed several members of their family.
Shannon has pre-op on Sept. 19. Tracy has pre-op on Sept. 21.
“We have to do the antigen-antibody testing,” Shannon said.
“Both of us have to do it on the 25th, that’s the blood work that goes to Albany and it goes into their big transplant list system to make sure our antibodies and antigens are good to go, I guess. They keep checking that once a month. Then, Oct. 5 would be the transplant.”
The day the sisters were supposed to learn if Tracy could be a donor, they “were totally on eggshells.”
“We kept wondering, did you get a phone call yet?” Shannon said.
“No. Did you? No. Anything? No. It was like all day. and then later in the day it got, we were getting more and more anxiety ridden. Oh, something is going on. It’s not good news. We should have known by now. They are trying to figure out what to say to us. Then, we were like, maybe tomorrow.”
The suspense ceased when Tracy’s chart registered a message on Aug. 28.
“Tears were in my eyes,” Shannon said.
“I couldn’t even follow what it said because I proofread it really quick. It said that she was a match, and they were going to move forward with the donation. That night me and my husband took a trip over to Vermont to see my sister and hug her and cry on her shoulder. It was a real emotional day to find out that she was a match, and it is going to be done.”
A benefit to help the sisters with medical expenses, lost wages, and travel will be held Sept. 23, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., at the Wooden Nickel located at 8201 U.S. Route 9 in Lewis.
“We’re basically doing 50/50 raffles,” Shannon said.
“We’ve got baskets auctions, basket raffles to offset the cost of everything for missed work for her because she’s putting her life on hold for me, you know.”
DJ Jumpin’ Joe will rock the Wooden Nickel.
“He’s really good,” Shannon said.
“He did my wedding, actually.”
Donations have been received from businesses including the Mirror Lake Inn and Experience Outdoors in Lake Placid, Vermont Hotel, The Courtyard, The Switchback in Burlington, and Lakeside Nutrition in Milton.
“The biggest thing is how both sides of the lake has like pulled together,” Shannon said.
“It’s been amazing. We just found out that we have an anonymous donor that would like to do a challenge grant. He will match what we make from the benefit.”
There is also a campaign online, Help Hope Live, to raise money for Shannon’s out-of-pocket costs to secure dependable care and safe transportation for a year post-transplant.
As of today, $3,575 have been raised toward the $8,000 goal. Donations can be made at: https://helphopelive.org/campaign/22162/
The sisters’ mother, Gloria (Caul) St. Dennis, died from PKD on Aug. 8, 2003.
Tracy, fortunately, doesn’t have the disease.
“It’s exciting because she’s giving me a new life,” Shannon said.
“Our mom never got to see our kids graduate high school because she was taken too soon. So, she’s given me life enough to be able to grow with my grandkids and watch them graduate.
“When we were younger, we probably annoyed each other to no end. She was older. I was younger. I wanted to be around her. She was like get away from me and my friends.
“She’s literally doing the most selfless thing ever. She’s donating, you know, an organ. I feel mixed emotions, I think. The whole thing is just mixed up. It’ll be good.”