Can you be Jessicas miracle?
BY: Jennifer Lysiak, Lancaster Editor | September 04, 2013
LANCASTER, CHEEKTOWAGA- In need of a kidney transplant, Cheektowaga resident Jessica Frysz has been waiting a long time for a miracle and in life sometimes it just takes one person to create that miracle. Her hope is for a stranger to donate a kidney.
Diagnosed at 11 months old with Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (AHUS), a rare genetic blood disease that caused her to have both her kidneys removed, Frysz is one of approximately 600 AHUS cases in the United States.
“I guess you could say right now I’m in remission, because I don’t have an organ in my body,” said Frysz. “When there’s an organ there it reacts, but right now it’s dormant.”
At the age of 1, Frysz began dialysis treatments and still till this day continues to receive treatments three days a week, which takes about three hours. Dialysis takes a toll on Frysz making her exhausted on most days, it causes calcification, bones to become brittle, and the heart becomes weakened by it because it has to work twice as hard.
Frysz said she had a kidney transplant in 1999, but the kidney was rejected only lasting nine days.
“I had to grow up fast,” said Frysz. “I’ve had more surgeries than I can count; having my kidneys removed was just the beginning. I’ve had a kidney transplant and then had the failed kidney removed. I’ve had many catheter and dialysis access placements and routine angioplasties to ensure that these accesses are functioning properly.”
Frysz is active on the transplant donor list, but she is unable to take a cadaver organ, which makes her situation even more unique.
“We are looking for a living donor,” said Frysz. “I need a particular donor because of the disease. The drug they are looking to use has not been used on a cadaver kidney before. They found more success with a living one.”
A special person in Frysz’s life is “Baby” Joe Mesi, a former boxer, who met Frysz at Women and Children’s Hospital in the late 1990’s.
Mesi said because doctors consider Frysz to be successfully maintaining her living with dialysis she kind of gets bumped down a little bit on the list.
“That day, not only meeting Jesse, but the other kids who were on dialysis, waiting for transplants, and kids with cancer, changed my life as I realized there was more to life than boxing,” said Mesi. “I wanted to be more involved in my community. I learned to appreciate giving back, and this is my home, and if I have the power to do that I’m going to do that. So in a way Jesse changed my life and I have become friends with her.”
In 2000, Mesi established the Baby Joe Mesi fight for organ donors foundation after learning his cousin, Genelle Shanor, needed a transplant after suffering a kidney disease. Unfortunately, Shanor developed kidney failure and passed away.
“This is what is most passionate to me,” remarked Mesi. “The reason I formed a foundation is to not only raise money, but to raise awareness for the importance we need for people to become organ donors. Become an organ donor.”
A simple blood test will show if someone is a compatible donor. Her family is not an option because her disease is genetic.
Frysz is truly a miracle herself as she has been told by doctors she would not live past the age of 14, but exceeding this predication, she is now 25 years old.
“She is a hero,” commented Mesi. “What I noticed the most is her attitude and confidence, I’m a fighter and I would have given up.”
Mesi added she is covered by her health coverage now for her treatments, but when a kidney is found for Frysz, and hopefully soon, and the transplant is performed, insurance will only cover so much of the surgery.
Therefore, a benefit for Frysz will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Polish Falcons, 445 Columbia Ave., in Depew. There will be food, beverages, music, 50/50 raffle, door prizes, but more importantly organ donor cards to become a donor. Tickets are $25.
For tickets or to donate money or baskets call Adele Surovich at 907-0624 or email JessFryszKidneyBenefit@gmail.com. Those interested in seeing if their a match, can use the same contact information listed above.
Even after going through all this, Frysz’s didn’t let her disease take away her dreams. She went to college and received her bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology in 2011. She currently works as a licensed veterinary technician.
“I’ve learned to live with my condition, and my doctors have learned that I don’t give up. I’ve proved their predictions wrong again and again, and I live every day as if it’s my last,” remarked Frysz.”