No matter day or night, Cindy Hitch’s world revolves around tubes, bags and toxins.
“I use this to clean the wound, this is the hole in my stomach, and this is where the drain goes into the toilet,” she explained.
Hitch found out when she was 10 years old that she had polycystic kidney disease, a hereditary illness where her kidneys are filled with large cysts.
“It’s very taxing. There are some days I don’t get out of the bed,” she said.
Nine hours a day, she’s hooked up to a dialysis machine.
“I am filling up with fluid, you can see the bubbles,” she explains. “Then we go the other way, where you want to get the excess fluids in you to come out.”
At 57, the Norfolk, Virginia, resident is in stage 5 renal failure.
“I am just in a waiting game and desperate for a donor,” Cindy said. “I know it’s a hard ask.”
She’s been on the transplant waiting list with 430 others at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital for two years.
“They say it can be 5 to 6 years,” Cindy said.
The wait time is unknown, so her husband George decided to throw a Hail Mary for help.
“It was unexpected but such a pleasant surprise. He really did a great job in getting word out as much as he could,” she said.
George rented a billboard in the highly-trafficked Town Center area at Constitution Drive and Columbus Street, and put out countless yard signs, hoping someone will selflessly give Cindy a second chance at life.
“I am hoping this will bring awareness,” she said.
The pandemic has proved that organ donations are down, so Cindy knows she’s fighting an uphill battle.
“You have two, you only need one to live. I would like someone to donate a kidney for me,” Cindy said.
March is National Kidney Month. If you or someone you know would like to be screened for a kidney for Cindy, click here.
By Chelsea Donovan, WTKR.