Moses Lake woman seeks kidney; has been on dialysis for about 12 years

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldJuly 14, 2013 

Megan Dunnagan has a modest wish list: get a full-time job, take a vacation, live a normal life.

Those things have been all but impossible for the 28-year-old Moses Lake woman, who's been on dialysis for about 12 years and desperately needs a kidney transplant. After more than a decade of waiting and hoping, she's says it sometimes feels like a new kidney -- and the new life it would bring -- might never come through.

But she and her family aren't giving up.

They're taking action.

They're placing ads in newspapers, including the Herald, hoping to find potential donors willing to be tested for a match. And they're taking to social media, with a Facebook page that provides updates on Megan's health and their efforts.

"I don't want to lose her. I'm ready to stand on the street corner with a sign. I'm to that point," said her mom, Janet Dunnagan of Othello.

Megan needs a donor with type O blood.

And because of increased antibodies from numerous blood transfusions over the years and a kidney transplant when she was a toddler, she's what's known as "highly sensitized." That means only a small percentage of donors will be a match.

Megan's kidney problems began when she was a baby. She was born with the umbilical cord around her neck and had to be flown to Seattle Children's Hospital from Alaska, where her family was living at the time. Megan lost kidney function and was placed on dialysis, her mother said.

When she was 2 years old, she had her first kidney transplant -- with her mom as the donor. That kidney did its job for years, but "the medication that you take -- the anti-rejection drugs -- after time become toxic to the new kidney and you lose it. That's what (eventually) happened," Janet Dunnagan said.

Megan has been back on dialysis since she was 16, and now her veins are giving out.

She's had other medical struggles too, including open-heart surgery when she was a child to repair a hole in her heart.

Megan acknowledges she's had a tough go of it, and sometimes she feels angry, she said. But she's grateful for the support of her family.

"I have a loving family, I really do. I was blessed with a loving, caring family," Megan said,

Her dad is Steve Dunnagan, Othello's police chief. Megan also has a younger sister and brother, as well as an older half brother.

Many of her family members -- immediate and extended -- have been tested and aren't matches.

A story about Megan in the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane in January also generated interest, though no match was found.

Janet Dunnagan said she hopes more people will consider seeing if they can help. She's had no medical issues as a result of her donation, she said.

And it's an incredible feeling to know you've given someone else a second chance, she said.

That's what she wants for her daughter. Megan Dunnagan is a good person -- compassionate, her mom said. "There have been so many trials for that young lady. It's incredible. She's lost so much," Janet said. "She just wants a chance in life."

For more information

The Dunnagans are asking potential donors to call Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane to get more information. Dial 509-474-3131 and ask for the kidney transplant department.

The Facebook page is at www.facebook.com/kidneyprayersformegan.

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