Pam Schultz answers customer calls with a cheerful greeting and ready answers to health questions. When a longtime Hi-Health store customer called and mentioned her ailing daughter's disease, Schultz offered a bigger solution.
She decided to donate her kidney to a stranger.
Simon has polycystic kidney disease, an incurable genetic disorder marked by fluid-filled cysts that envelop both her kidneys. Because of the cysts, her kidneys are each the size of a football and only 20 percent functional.
Simon, 53, has lived with the condition for 33 years, but in early March a chance phone call to the Hi-"It was a life-changing moment," Simon said.
Doctors temporarily disqualified Schultz as a donor in September after finding a quirk in her kidney's anatomy that could complicate Simon's surgery.
Although Simon's health is rapidly declining, she remains optimistic that she will find a live donor before she reaches 15 percent kidney function. At that point, patients require dialysis treatments to survive, according to Dr. Raymond Heilman, medical director of the kidney transplant program at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona.
The Arizona Republic by Eddi Trevizo, 11/25/09