One Roanoke woman keeps her cell phone at her side always. The reason? She's waiting for a call that could save her life.
To understand this woman's story you have to go back several years to when 41 year old Jenny Mays DeLorenzo was just 17 and a junior at Cave Spring High School in Roanoke County.
That's when she was diagnosed with Wegener's granulomatosis, an autoimmune disease. "Basically the cells that help fight off infection in a normal person's body in my body start fighting off each other," said Mays DeLorenzo. "When they do that it can be anywhere and wherever it lands is whatever it takes."
Mays DeLorenzo has had ten surgeries since she was 17. "I've had sinus surgery I've have five tear duct surgeries where it's closed off my tear ducts. It can attack anything it wants to," explained Mays DeLorenzo.
She pointed to her cheek to show the most recent place she's had surgery. Doctors at Duke University Medical Center removed a mass that was growing in her cheek and threatening to invade her eye. If it had not been removed she could have lost her sight.
It was a couple of years ago that Mays DeLorenzo's cells began attacking her kidneys. She's now on dialysis and she's on the donor list for a kidney. "I have to keep my phone with me all the time," Mays DeLorenzo explained as she pointed to her cell phone on the coffee table.
That's also why she has been working to raise money.
On the day our crew visited her home, the dining room was filled with silent auction items that sold at a benefit last weekend.
"The outpouring was just fantastic. I felt very blessed to say the least," said Mays DeLorenzo. A friend from high school who she had not seen in 20 years was there, along with family and friends. More than 160 ticketes were sold. The benefit raised $18,000.
"All of that money, I don't actually even see," Mays DeLorenzo explained. That's because the money goes to the National foundation for transplants in her name. It'll be there when she needs it. It could pay her mortgage for three months after her surgery or it may help pay for medications.One of the medications could cost between $2,200 and $2,600 a month after insurance, according to Mays DeLorenzo. That medication that helps the body accept the new kidney is taken for at least three months and possibly up to six months or longer after surgery.
Mays DeLorenzo stays busy as she waits for that phone call. She works full time as the regional coordinator for Hope Tree Family Services where she oversees four group homes and two programs.
For a woman who's been dealing with illness for years, Mays DeLorenzo doesn't let it get her down.
"I have never been negative about any of this. I think it's because I was diagnosed at 17 and I've just dealt with stuff," said Mays DeLorenzo. "When I found out my kidneys were shot I was kind of like 'Ok. We have to get over this next hump too.'"
Mays DeLorenzo would fare the best with a living kidney donor. Twenty five people including family members have been tested but there has not been a match so far. If you'd like more information on getting tested you can email Mays DeLorenzo at email@example.com or call her at 540 397-4146. Her insurance covers the cost of testing.
If you'd like to donate to Mays DeLorenzo's NTF fund click here.