Women fights for fifth kidney transplant

Amy Hastings McGee had her first transplant at age 11


SULPHER, La. – She says she's met death face to face many times but she isn't willing to give up.  A Louisiana woman is desperately hoping to get her fifth lifesaving transplant.   

Amy Hasting McGee says, "They discovered that I was obviously born with only one kidney.  That kidney disintegrated as I grew older."

That one working kidney was only functioning at five percent.  It was the size of a sweet pea but serving the role of filtering toxins out of the entire body.

"Any waste that you may have in your body.  Anything you eat or drink - your kidneys balance that out."

Amy's failing kidney could not do the job and at age 11, she had her first kidney transplant. "Here I was in Sulphur, Louisiana.  I got a call to go to New Orleans where I got a cadaver kidney from a little boy in Pine Bluff."

That kidney lasted for two years, then began failing. Amy's second transplant would come from her sister, Holly, and would last four years.      

Just as high school graduation approached, Amy underwent her third kidney transplant.

"That made me healthy again quickly and within a month I was going to Louisiana Tech on orientation."

Amy nearly made it through her college years without needing another transplant, but for the third time... her donor kidney failed. Getting a fourth kidney took a fight.

"I found a very sweet doctor and he pled my case for me and he got me that kidney and that kidney lasted a few more years."

Four transplants, 25 years of kidney disease and 15 years of dialysis have worn down Amy's body.  The nation's leading transplant team has denied her candidacy for a fifth transplant.

"It doesn't matter where I have to go, what I have to do, it's my life and no doctor is going to change that."   

Amy, her husband Josh and their four inherited children from Amy's late sister say they'll do whatever it takes to get the transplant.     

In the meantime, Amy is kept alive by blood cleaning hemodialysis 20 hours a week. 

"What scares me is the reality of what can happen whenever your body is no longer ready to be a dialysis patient."

There's no timeline on how long dialysis might work for Amy. A fifth kidney transplant would mean Amy could once again be dialysis-free.

"When I look at my kids and my husband and all the great things God has for me out there, I know that he's not finished with me yet."

So, the battle will wage on for another transplant and another chance at life. Amy undergoes a final round of tests this month to possibly be added to the kidney transplant wait list.

For more information on kidney transplants - including how to be a donor - visit the Henry Ford Transplant Institute.