New Richmond woman receives transplant but faces significant costs


For more information, contact:
Mandy Stockton, Vice President of Communications
Phone: 800-489-3863, x109

Hudson, Wisc., May 23, 2012 – Vanessa Michael doesn’t take one moment for granted. She recently received a lifesaving kidney transplant, thanks to a generous living donor. Her expenses are overwhelming, so volunteers are planning a luau fundraiser to help.

Fifteen years ago, toward the end of her pregnancy, Michael suffered from high blood pressure, which led to kidney failure. Her kidneys were irreparably damaged, and her health worsened over time. She was eventually diagnosed with end-stage renal disease. For four months, she required nightly dialysis treatments, which took a toll on her quality of life. Doctors said a kidney transplant was essential to her survival.

While at a party, a friend introduced her to Tim Forsyth, who was so moved by her story he offered to undergo testing to see if he could be Michael’s living kidney donor. He was a perfect donor match, and she received her transplant February 21, 2012. She is forever grateful to Forsyth, who saved her life by selflessly donating one of his kidneys.

Michael, 35, is thrilled to be able to resume her favorite hobbies of walking her dog, dancing and spending time outside. Her health previously limited her activities, and she loves that she’s no longer attached to a machine each night for dialysis. She is thankful for the ongoing support from her family and friends and looks forward to spending many more years with her teenage daughter, who has never known a time when her mom wasn’t sick.

The average kidney transplant costs approximately $260,000. Although her health insurance covered the transplant itself, Michael still faces expenses for follow-up care and daily anti-rejection medications for the rest of her life. Post-transplant medications can be very costly, and they are as critical to her survival as the transplant itself. Because her hospital is 50 miles from her home, she incurs travel expenses for every appointment. She was unable to work for three months post-transplant, adding to the financial strain.

To overcome these financial challenges, Michael turned to the National Foundation for Transplants (NFT) for assistance. NFT is a nonprofit organization that helps transplant patients raise funds to pay for medical expenses.

“Of course we’re thrilled Vanessa received her transplant,” said Laura Hughes, NFT fundraising consultant. “But many people don’t realize the lifelong financial burdens associated with transplantation. At NFT, we’re helping Vanessa raise the necessary funds so she can celebrate her new lease on life without constantly worrying about the costs.”

Volunteers are planning a “Luau for Life: Kickin’ Kidney Disease,” Saturday, June 2 at Uncle Mike’s M Pour E Yum, 736 Hwy 12 in Hudson. The event begins at 3 p.m. and includes a silent auction, a bounce house and more. T-shirts and jewelry from Cookie Lee will be available for purchase. Cookie Lee will donate 20 percent of sales. Refreshments are available for purchase, including Hawaiian style-pulled pork sandwiches, chips, cookies, pineapple orange dream dessert and beverages. DJ entertainment will be provided, along with a live telethon broadcast on Internet Radio America. Forsyth will attend the event as a special guest.

There is no admission fee, but donations are strongly encouraged.

A cigar rolling event will take place the same day from noon to 3 p.m. at St. Croix Cigar, 525 2nd Street. This event also has no admission, but donations are encouraged.

For questions or more information, please contact Michelle Tainter at 612-247-7306 or

To make a donation in Michael’s honor, please visit and select Find an NFT Patient. If you prefer to mail your contribution, please send your gift to the NFT Wisconsin Transplant Fund, 5350 Poplar Avenue, Suite 430, Memphis, TN 38119. Be sure to write “in honor of Vanessa Michael” in the subject line.

About NFT
NFT is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization based in Memphis, Tenn. that has been helping transplant patients overcome financial obstacles since 1983. NFT provides fundraising expertise to transplant patients by organizing fundraising campaigns in the patients’ own communities. In the past 29 years, NFT’s fundraising campaigns have generated nearly $60 million to assist patients.

NFT annually assists more than 2,500 transplant candidates and recipients nationwide. For more information about NFT, please call 800-489-3863 or visit