Flat Rock woman in need of kidney transplant seeks living donor

Heather Ledbetter (Left) speaks with News 13's Kimberly King (Right) on May 19, 2017. Ledbetter is facing a crisis in her life as she seeks a living donor for a kidney transplant. But she maintains the smile and upbeat spirit that has fueled her determination through it all. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Heather Ledbetter is facing a crisis in her life, but she maintains the smile and upbeat spirit that has fueled her determination through it all.

“Back in 2011, the end of June, I had flu-like symptoms,” Ledbetter recalled.

It was much worse than the flu. Her liver and kidneys were failing. Doctors performed a life-saving liver transplant and expected her kidneys to return to being fully functioning, but they never worked beyond 30 percent. Now their function has decreased to the point her Asheville doctor has told her she’ll face dialysis unless she can find a living donor.

“If something is not done soon, I cannot continue to survive with how the kidneys are now,” Ledbetter said.

Her doctor said if her kidney filtration rate drops to 10, she'll need immediate dialysis.

“And that number last week was 12,” Ledbetter told News 13.

She remains optimistic a donor match will come forward. A man has already volunteered to be tested.

“While I’m so grateful, we’re not yet certain he will pass the medical tests. So, we are hoping others will step up and be willing to be tested. Having two kidneys and taking one out still means you can live a normal life," Ledbetter said.

She knows it takes a brave and generous individual who would donate their own kidney to a stranger.

Heather is a huge animal lover and worked as a vet technician in Henderson County before her kidney illness began to take a toll, causing severe fatigue. She has a dog and a love for horses. While she can’t ride anymore due to her illness, she said she still loves to be around horses and care for them when she’s able to go out a horse farm.

“I’m 33, and I love spending time with family, and friends and attending church,” she said.

Ledbetter must stay on blood thinners. “Due to having polycythemia that is what clotted the liver,” Ledbetter said.

Through it all, she still has a smile on her face. She’s kept a scrapbook chronicling her fight to survive; first the emergency surgery in 2011, and now she will add clippings from the fight to live she now faces.

“God has me here for a purpose. He’s had a plan for my life,” she said.

Ledbetter will soon have no choice but to go on dialysis and join a national wait-list for a kidney, which could take up to seven years.

You can reach Heather at 828-696-5525 to speak to her about what live kidney donation entails. Her insurance will cover costs for both surgeries.

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