Most people raise money for those with kidney disease and organ donor awareness for maybe one person they know who needs a kidney. But Royal Oak resident Mallory Milevic is doing it for two people – her sister Hannah Leavy, who lives in Farmington Hills and her good friend Martha Stella, who lives in Detroit. Both Hannah and Martha discovered within a month of each other that their first kidney transplants were failing, and they needed to replace them as soon as possible. One big concern is that, unless you have a living donor, the wait time for a kidney in Michigan can be as short as three years or up to as long as seven years. As of September 2021, just over 2000 people in Michigan were on the waiting list.
Hannah, 32, was born with polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disorder that causes fluid-filled cysts to grow in the kidneys. If too many cysts grow or if they get too big, they can damage the kidneys and reduce kidney function, causing kidney failure. She received a kidney transplant from her father when she was two years old. Her transplanted kidney lasted for almost 30 years! Most living donor kidneys last an average of 12 to 15 years. Just placed on the kidney transplant waiting list, Hannah is a social worker and says she loves helping her community. She was also thrilled to get married this July after having to postpone it due to COVID.
Martha was also born with kidney disease, and received a kidney transplant about 12 years ago from a deceased donor. Most deceased donor kidneys last about ten years. Martha is a liver transplant coordinator nurse at a Detroit area transplant center, and says she loves taking care of her patients.
Mallory, who has raised money for the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan for years, was doubly serious this year as she individually raised over $7000. Their Team Marf, led by captain Martha Stella and comprised of about 50 walkers, raised $12,700. These amounts were the highest funds raised at the 2021 NKFM Kidney Walk at the Detroit Zoo.
We caught up with these amazing women at the Zoo Walk on August 15. “Our family loves the NKFM. We’ve been coming to the kidney walks for several years,” states Mallory.
“NKFM does so much education in the community about kidney disease and its risk factors. They also advocate for people with chronic kidney disease,” adds Martha. “They also advocate at the government level for policy changes.”
About possible kidney donations for her or Hannah, Martha says, “Everyone should sign up to be a kidney donor because the wait list can be five to seven years. Don’t keep your organs.”
In the photo, from left to right, are: Hannah Leavy, Martha Stella, and Mallory Milevic. Mallory and her team were interviewed by Fox 2 News at the 2021 NKFM Kidney Walk at the Zoo. They were also featured in a story in C and G News. Come join Mallory at the next NKFM Kidney Walk at the Zoo or Trick or Feet!