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Teen with rare kidney disease needs life-saving transplant donor

A Duluth teen with a rare kidney disease is in need of a life-saving transplant donor.

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Natalie Rubino
DULUTH, GA — A Duluth teen with a rare kidney disease is in need of a life-saving transplant donor.

At 16-years-old, Ramonie Smith's schedule revolves around her 11 different medications.

"I take them every day, three times a day," she said.

And her 15 hours of kidney dialysis.

"Dialysis is in one word, uncomfortable. But I've been on it so long that I'm used to it," she said.

When she was just 18-months-old, Smith was diagnosed with a rare, incurable kidney disease called Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis.

"She was so sick. She was in and out of the hospital so much," her mom, Melissa Smith, remembers.

Smith received a kidney transplant at 5-years-old, but three days later her body rejected it. Since then, she has survived on the medication and dialysis, but now she needs a new kidney donor, fast.

"Because Ramonie's been on dialysis for so long, it's started affecting her heart. She had some heart dysfunction," her mom said.

An advertising company has put up four free billboards seeking a donor for Ramonie, but the search won't be easy.

"Because she has high antibodies from having a transplant and being on amino suppressants, only 1 percent of the population will be a match for Ramonie," her mom added.

The emotional and physical stress would be overwhelming for any adult, let alone a teenager, but Smith has no doubt she'll find a match. Right now she's embracing the disease that makes her so unique.

"Once you realize that it's OK not to be normal, it's OK to be different, then that's when you can truly make your peace with what's going on in your life. Now I accept it, and now I can admire it because it's what makes me, me," Smith said.

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