BILLINGS — You might have seen Worden resident Chris Coats flashing her bright green signs across the city of Billings.
She’s not looking for money. She’s looking for a kidney.
Coats has polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a genetic disorder that has turned her life upside down.
“Life is changing for me,” said Coats.
PKD causes clusters of cysts to grow in the kidneys.
“Fatigued, fuzzy-brained, you just need to have your kidneys working,” Coats said.
She learned she had it as a teenager, and the now 67-year-old has tried to manage the disease her whole life.
“I’ve lived all of my adult life working to take as good as care of my kidneys that I could,” Coats said.
It wasn’t until Coats went to Billings Clinic last year that she was put on a transplant list. She learned her kidneys were at just 10% functionality.
She says her initial doctor had failed to put her on a transplant list.
“He probably should have had me into a transplant center four or five years earlier,” Coats said.
She joins nearly 90,000 people in the U.S. currently waiting for a kidney, hoping a good Samaritan will come to the rescue and extend her life.
“I want to live longer, and I have grandchildren that I take care of and help our son take care of, so I want to be involved in their life,” Coats said.
It could take Coats years to get a kidney from a deceased donor. The average wait is three to five years.
She hopes that flashing her bright green signs will speed things up. Around a dozen people have approached her willing to help.
“He says what blood type, I said 'O', and he said, 'well, I’m 'O', I’ll give you a kidney,” Coats said.
However, she’s still waiting for a match. Regardless, she knows her time here could save a life even if it’s not hers.
“I can see where no matter what comes of this interviewing (in local media) that I’m hoping it will spread out like the fingers in a hand to touch a lot of people, just here in our community,” Coats said.
It’s a message and a mission she hopes will resonate as she fights for her life.
“It’s a good life, and I’d like to keep on going, maybe travel,” said Coats.
If you'd like to donate to Coat's kidney-searching journey, visit this link GiveSendGo - Help for Chris: The #1 Free Christian Fundraising Site.
If you like to learn more about how to donate, visit United Network for Organ Sharing | UNOS | US Organ Transplantation