LYNN — Miranda LeBrasseur has taken the extraordinary measure of posting a billboard in the center of Wyoma Square to get the word out that she needs a kidney.
“I’m diabetic and I have been since I was 17 years old, I have high-blood pressure, and my grandmother and my mother both had kidney disease,” she said. “So between the high-blood pressure, the diabetes, and the genetic kidney disease, my kidneys deteriorated really fast and it’s been four years now since I’ve been really sick.”
After a fundraiser in January helped her raise about $2,000, the Lynn resident and hopeful kidney recipient put all of the money toward getting the billboard up and running. She chose the location and the month of April so everyone who stops at the red light will clearly see her message.
“My family can’t donate because there are too many cancer and diabetes genes and I’m on a five-to-six-year wait for the transplant list, so no one is going to know that I need a kidney unless I tell them,” said LeBrasseur, who says her blood type is O.
She has been on the kidney transplant list since June 2016 and has been on dialysis since July 2016. LeBrasseur, a mother of two, spends every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for four hours at a time receiving hemodialysis.
“Dialysis is what makes my kidneys work, they do everything that my kidney is supposed to be doing like gets rid of all the bad stuff that I’m not supposed to have in my body,” she said. “So a kidney transplant would make me feel a lot better which would allow me to work again, which I had to stop doing in 2013.”
Lebrasseur spent 20 years working as the manager at the McDonald’s on the Lynnway before she became the assistant overnight manager at Circle K gas station in Wakefield. When she first became sick, she received peritoneal dialysis treatments which she would complete at home with the help of an inserted catheter, but they caused her to gain a lot of weight.
“I had to have a gastric bypass surgery done because I was on the transplant list as inactive until I lost weight, so I had to get down to a 36 body mass index (BMI),” she said. “I’m down 91 pounds since I had the surgery.”
LeBrasseur, 42, has lived in Lynn her entire life,and gets a lot of assistance from her mother, husband, and two daughters. Other than missing work because of her treatments, she misses being able to do activities with her family.
“Every day I’m very nauseous, I get headaches, I used to have lots and lots of swelling, but it’s not as bad since I lost the weight, I struggle with breathing when I walk too far, and most days I just feel weak and dizzy, especially on dialysis,” said LeBrasseur. “Not being able to do certain things with my kids has been tough because when I’m standing up for too long, like a few hours, I get really bad back pains from the kidneys.”
With the help of friends and family, she has spent the last few years fundraising and making t-shirts, bumper stickers, and bracelets to raise money for her treatments and make up for her loss of employment. Thanks to a close friend, LeBrasseur also has a website, www.Typeokidney.com, that holds all of the pertinent information for her transplant needs.
Living with blood type O is great for people wanting to donate, but creates a lot of stress for those in need of receiving, according to LeBrasseur. Someone with blood type O can only receive an organ from a donor also with blood type O and they must endure a number of tests to ensure a match.
“I’ve had about four people that reached out to me since I put up the billboard and two of them have actually already filled out the survey and each person that I talk to I ask them to keep me updated on their testing process,” she said.
The billboard may only hang over the center of Lynn until April 28, but LeBrasseur’s website and fundraising habits won’t stop until she finds a match. If a donor with blood type O wants to help out LeBrasseur, there is a list of things to be done in order to do so.
Anyone interested must fill out the living donor survey on the Mass General website, wait for doctors to determine if it’s a possible match, then head into the hospital with their medical records to go through a variety of tests.
“If you can’t donate to me, there are thousands of other people who need organs so if it’s something you want to do just do it because it will save someone’s life,” said LeBrasseur.