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Rockford teacher gets kidney after short time on donor list

Posted at 5:50 PM, Nov 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-07 17:50:42-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.--A Rockford kindergarten teacher in need of a kidney was told a transplant may not come in time. But last week she went under the knife after waiting a little under a month.

On average, the wait to get a kidney can range from five to ten years, an amount of time Judy Grifhorst didn't think she had left.

But, on Nov. 2 she received the call she was dreaming of.

"I'm a miracle sitting here," says Grifhorst.

In her early 30s, Grifhorst was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, an inherited disease that started slowly destroying her kidneys.

In March she learned both were functioning at just 10 percent.

"I was shocked. I said 'No I'm not, no I'm not, no I'm not.' And she said 'Yes you are,' and I went to the doctor about two days later and I was," Grifhorst says.

But at 61 and with kidney failure she was still chasing around little ones as a kindergarten teacher in Rockford making three trips a week to dialysis.

"I would put my children on the bus with the help of all my staff members kind of filling in and helping out to and run to my car and cream up my arm getting ready for the shots," says Grifhorst.

By September, Judy was on the national donor list and told she may have to wait years to find a donor.

Another blow in early October, she was told one of her kidneys would need to be removed because it had grown to the size of a football. So when her phone rang later that month, she was shocked to learn it was good news.

"I thought they were calling because I need to get some kidney removed and I thought they were calling about that and I was in such shocked and I'm still in such shock. But it was like, I couldn't believe it was real," she says.

Now in recovery, Judy wants to help others get their miracle by helping people become living donors.

"I've been working on living donors. I have about 41 packets out there that people have taken, that's still going to be my journey. So, if I make one difference in one more donor donation for an organ donor then it's been all worth it" Grifhorst added.

Judy went home to recover on Wednesday. She says she plans to go back to teaching as soon as possible. To find out more about Judy's effort to help others become a living donor click here.