At a time in life when most young adults are beginning their careers, starting families and exploring their possibilities, Korina Hermosillo, a 25-year-old Othello resident, is in the middle of a six-year fight with kidney disease.
It started with a bout of anemia when Hermosillo was 19 years old. With fewer red blood cells than a healthy person, the condition caused Hermosillo chronic fatigue, interfering with her ability to work or manage day-to-day tasks. Doctors initially disagreed on what caused the condition, but eventually discovered that it was chronic kidney disease. The organ tasked with filtering waste out of the blood stream was failing, and the only long-term solution was a new kidney.
Though finally presented with an answer to her chronic condition, this diagnosis presented its own problem--a $150,000 bill for a kidney transplant, plus the cost of expensive drugs Hermosillo would have to take for the rest of her life to keep her immune system from rejecting the organ. Those drugs can cost $2500 every month on average, according to a 2016 study by the National Center for Biotechnological Information.
Without being able to verify Hermosillo’s capacity to pay for the treatment or vital drugs, virtually no transplant center in the country will move forward with her surgery, according to recent reporting from CNN and Kaiser Health News.
Instead, Hermosillo has had to travel to Wenatchee for hospital visits three times a year and has been on dialysis since 2015 after a sudden downturn in her health. Though she has been selling bracelets and her friends have been selling cookies to fundraise for her life-changing surgery, these efforts have not been enough to overcome Hermosillo’s inability to pay three times the median annual income of a Grant County resident.
Enter, ABATE Grant County. A motorcycle club lobbying for rider-friendly legislation by day, by night the local chapter of the statewide organization is also engaged in various charitable projects, including helping those in dire need of medical care with overwhelming bills. A member of the club learned of the situation Hermosillo was in and also that her insurance would pay for little of her expenses, so they brought it to the attention of chapter leader Susan Carson.
“Our members know that if you have something you believe in and you think we can make a difference, let us know and we’ll put it together,” Carson said.
The group has been looking into grants and sponsorships from Seattle-based organizations like Swedish Hospital or the University of Washington to pay for the monumental cost of a kidney transplant and immunosuppressive drugs, Carson said.
In the meantime, ABATE Grant County is holding a BBQ fundraiser and silent auction Jan. 26 at the Bethel Spanish Assembly of God in Othello to help pay for Hermosillo’s day-to-day expenses, Carson said. Those wishing to donate items for the auction can contact Carson at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 206-612-2555.
There is also a GoFundMe page set up for Korina raising funds directly for the cost of surgery at https://www.gofundme.com/ahvzqu-kidney-transplant-donation.
With a new kidney, Hermosillo would return to full-time employment, start a family and possibly pursue her dream of becoming a nurse, Carson said.
“At 25, people normally would be hanging out with their friends and be out having fun or getting married, and she’s just trying to live,” Carson said. “We want her to be able to have a normal life.”