Kidney Donation Sought for 27-year-old Woman

Jessica Shultis visiting the Perry shoreline in April. (Submitted photo)

By Lura Jackson


Unexpected illness is never a welcome visitor, but when it comes in a potentially fatal form to a young family member, it is nothing short of devastating. Such is the case for Bette Rose of Perry who, along with the rest of her family, recently discovered that her 27-year old granddaughter, Jessica Shultis, is in end-stage renal failure. Bette is now reaching out to the community in search of a donor that would be willing to give the gift of life in the form of a healthy kidney.

The realization that something was very wrong with Jessica happened by chance when she was visiting Bette and her husband, Kenneth, back in April. It was Friday the 13th, and Bette had just finished taking Kenneth’s blood pressure – a task performed every night following his own near-fatal experience with Sudden Death Syndrome, in which he “dropped dead” for a time while working in the IGA deli, Bette explained – when she offered to take Jessica’s as well. “It was sky high,” she recalled. “I said she needed to get it checked out, and soon.”

Three days later, Jessica was back in her home of New Port Richey, Florida. Her father, a nurse, checked her blood pressure again. “He told her she had to go the emergency room immediately,” Bette said. Once there, she was admitted and quickly set up with a dialysis machine to reduce the toxicity of her blood. A few days later, she was formally diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease.

Jessica is now undergoing dialysis treatments for ten hours a night, and she is on the waiting list for a transplant. While her family members, including Bette, came forward to offer their kidneys, none of them were a match. Jessica has type O blood, but the kidney she receives must come from someone who is under 65, with a BMI of less than 35, with no diabetes, and who takes no more than one blood pressure medication per day.

Now, all the family can do is wait for a match to be found. “It really is a helpless feeling,” Bette said. “I pray to God that nobody has to go through this.”


The donation efforts to find Jessica a kidney are now being coordinated by Marilyn Fowler, Living Kidney Donor Coordinator of the Transplant Institute of Florida. She can be reached at 727-588-5837.