A Life or Death Situation: Woman in Need of Kidney

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Wed, July 10 2013 at 5:46 PM, Updated: Wed, July 17 2013 at 1:33 AM

It all started out when Medford woman Sandy Matthews said she accidentally stepped on a tack, got a flesh eating disease, then was pumped full of antibiotics.

She said doctors think those antibiotics may have played a role in her kidney failure and now she's facing life or death.

Matthews, who said she's spent much of her life helping others as a volunteer, now needs some help of her own.

"If I don't get a kidney, I will die," she said.

At first she wasn't sure if she wanted to go through with a transplant.

"So my daughter said mom do it for me, because I need you in my life."

That changed her mind. Now she undergoes kidney dialysis, which cleans her blood three times a week. While she said the cleaning also means chemicals are pumped into her system; it's what's keeping her alive.

"It makes you so weak"

Sandy Matthews, who is on the Oregon Health Plan and lives on $720 per month. She said $600 of that goes to rent. Now she has been told she needs $2500 before she can make it on an active list to be eligible to get a kidney at Legacy Hospital in Portland. When she heard the news...

"I felt like I was on a pirate ship, walking the plank," said Matthews.

The requirement is an effort by Legacy Hospital to make sure Matthews can stay in the Portland-area during her recovery so she can easily get to follow-up exams and ensure the success of the surgery. She said OHP will typically help reimburse some of the lodging costs...but not all. In addition, she wouldn't get the reimbursement until after everything had been paid for. Matthews said the main problem is that she doesn't have the money to begin with.

Even with her struggles, Matthews is keeping her sense of humor.

"I think of standing on the street corner saying 'Hey, you got a kidney?"

For now, she's looking to the future.

"I want to get back to volunteering and helping people so that what I'd like to do is be normal again."

Even in her time of need, still thinking of others.

Sandy Matthews said once she gets the $2500 to cover lodging, she will be placed on the active kidney transplant list. While it doesn't cost money to be approved for the national active list, a hospital staffmember said requiring a certain monetary amount before getting on the hospital's active list is a common practice.

However Matthews said, once she's on the list, the wait could be six months to two years.

Matthews friends are trying to raise money for her. If you would like to help, you can donate at the Nazarene Church in Medford and designate the money for Sandy Matthews.

Donations can also be made at any U.S. Bank to the name "Sarah B. Matthews."

You can also get in touch with Sandy Matthews directly at 541-499-3496.

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About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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