MCKINNEY (CBSNewsTexas) - A North Texas woman received a second chance at life thanks to her cousin, who gave her one of her kidneys.
Lizzie Porter grew up in McKinney.
"For the first 18 years of my life, I did not have any kidney problems," Porter said. "So I just grew up pretty normally."
But a few months before her high school graduation, Porter got really sick. She was ultimately diagnosed with a rare form of kidney disease.
"Kidney disease can be invisible until it's very present," she said. "So it can be something that starts so quietly, and then all of a sudden, your kidney is failing. It's scary."
For several years, she was able to keep the disease under control, until her kidneys failed for good in 2019.
"When the kidneys do fail, the only options are transplant or dialysis," said Jared Kisner, a facility administrator for a DaVita dialysis center.
Kisner sees the impact of kidney disease every day, which the CDC estimates impacts 37 million people in the U.S.
"It's very prevalent," Kisner said. "One in three Americans are at risk, and 90 percent of that population generally doesn't even know they're headed towards kidney failure."
Dialysis is a difficult procedure you have to do three times a week for several hours at a time, so a kidney transplant is often a patient's best option for living a full, healthy life.
Right now, there are nearly 100,000 people in the U.S. waiting for a kidney transplant.
Porter doesn't have any siblings, and her parents weren't a match. Fortunately, her cousin Sarah was.
"It's been a really crazy journey," Porter said. "Emotionally, I'd been preparing myself for it not to work, and then the fact that it did and it's still working beautifully, it's just crazy. I'm so lucky."
It's been exactly two years since Sarah gave Porter one of her kidneys, and the transplant has completely changed her life.
"I bought a house, I got a dog, I'm getting married," she said. "It's just all these different things I'm able to do. If I'm on a hike, I'll send Sarah a picture and be like thanks for the hike! Little things like that. I have to have so much gratitude for her because if I didn't have her, it wouldn't be like that."
Now, she wants to let other know how living donors can make a difference.
"It's kind of a hidden disease you don't think about all the time, and so raising awareness for it and just knowing how hard it is on a person, and there's so many ways it can be fixed," Porter said.
She plans to be at the Dallas Kidney Walk, benefiting the National Kidney Foundation, on Saturday at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie.
Registration is free, but donations are encouraged.
You can find more details here: https://www.kidneywalk.org/dallas
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