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Senior needs funds for kidney, pancreas transplants

By Shadonna Gorham
On March 31, 2016

   A senior therapeutic recreation major at Winston-Salem State, has remained serene after being diagnosed with Stage 4 kidney failure in July 2014.

   Sierra Payne’s organ failure resulted from her being born with Type 1 diabetes.

   Diabetes indicates a body’s inability to adequately regulate blood sugar or glucose levels.

   The main organ responsible for regulating blood sugar levels is the pancreas. It does this by a number of mechanisms, the most important of which is secreting insulin.
   Without insulin, sugar levels rise very high causing damage to various organs and also keeping the body from appropriately using sugar for energy.

   Payne is in the final stages of kidney failure which threatens her life unless she receives a kidney/pancreas double transplant.

Sierra Payne

   “When I was first diagnosed with the kidney failure, I was in disbelief,” Payne said.

   “I felt a little distressed. But as my doctors were telling me it was nothing I did to cause this. I felt better as time moved on. I started talking with my classmates and professors more about the disease. A weight lifted off my shoulders, and I started getting all kinds of support and prayers.”

   Michael Isler, Clinical Services/Informatics coordinator and peer health educator adviser, was contacted by the American Red Cross site coordinator. They told him that Sierra’s brother, Jonathan Payne, wanted to collaborate with the Wellness Center on a blood drive to help his sister.

   The event was a success.

   Forty-eight donors registered; 35 units were collected; and 22 people were first-time donors.

   “The Wellness Center is always happy to collaborate with other individuals, student groups, faculty and staff in improving the health of our student body and improving community involvement,” Isler said.

   Payne is grateful for all the help she has been receiving through this journey.

   “My family and professors have helped me remarkably. Everyone has stepped up and put in donor packets and I don’t feel like I’m alone. I can’t thank everyone enough,” she said.

   Kidney failure has put a strain on Payne’s body. She no longer can walk on campus as she used to because her legs retain fluid. She can’t sit or stand for long periods of time because she is weak and out of breath. She now takes classes online.

   Although she no longer can participate in campus activities, Payne uses her free time to be an advocate for those going through similar situations as her.

   “I just want to bring awareness in the community about diabetes and kidney failure. You do not have to be old to encounter this disease. It is people out here that I want to talk for, who need support, an advocate,” she said.

   Payne also has a GoFundMe account started by her brother, on Oct. 10, 2015, with a target goal of $4,000.

   She now has a $2,900 in the account donated by 68 people in past five months.

   Some donors also left words of encouragement.

  “These people don’t know me, but they helped me. That goes a long way.”

   Her motivation is the people that support her and the people who need a voice during trying times. 

   Payne’s transplant coordinators are hoping she will receive the transplant in the summer. She is not on dialysis yet and is hoping she will receive the transplant before she has to go to dialysis. Donations can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/sierrasmiles. 

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