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West Michigan woman waiting 2.5 years on dialysis for a kidney: 'I lost my joy'

Rush says if you can’t donate a kidney, she would love for others to share her story to hopefully find her match.

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — Courtney Rush needs a kidney. It’s a message the Gaines Township woman hopes to spread across West Michigan.

Rush has been waiting two and a half years through excruciating treatments to find her donor.  

“This is happening. This is real. People's lives are on the line," she said. 

Rush, who was born and raised in Grand Rapids, is turning 40 in August. She finds her joy spending time with her niece, who will soon graduate from East Kentwood High School, and her three younger nephews. 

But she can’t be around for them as much as she used to.

“It just almost like I lost my joy a little bit," she said. 

Rush noticed one day that her body was swollen.

“I couldn't fit in any of my shoes. My clothes are fitting different," she explained. 

Rush went to the doctor, where she got the news. She has kidney failure.

“My whole world went black. Just everything was like, just stopped," she said. 

She would need a kidney donation. Over the next year, she went from stage three to stage five. 

Now, two and a half years after her diagnosis, she's still searching. 

She says the dialysis treatments are agonizing. 

“I lay in this cold, hard chair. I have like these three big blankets that I take with me. My body is so cold when I'm there," she said. 

Due to COVID-19 precautions, she can't bring in family members. 

“It’s a lonely feeling," Rush said. 

She wants to spread the word about her disease, but not just for herself.

“Even if I don't get a donor from this, at least people are aware, people are looking for a kidney," she said. 

Rush wants West Michigan to know that you can be the change for someone like her.

“People need kidneys, you're born with two but you only need one to live.”

Through it all, she's maintained hope that her community will show up for her— to find a kidney for Courtney. 

“My work is not done here. He still has worked for me to do," she said. “Just as long as I keep believing in that, and knowing that I'm on the road to getting better."

Rush says if you can’t donate a kidney, she would love for you to share her story to hopefully find her match.  

You can view her profile on the National Kidney Registry here


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