On March 1, 2013 Miriam Tasker awoke at 2am suffering from “an extremely bad nosebleed”; on March 9 she was released from Lismore Base Hospital after having had five four-hour sessions of dialysis. The mother of three children and stepmother to two celebrated her 38th birthday with the knowledge that her kidneys had failed and were only functioning at 10 per cent of their capacity.
So began Miriam’s search for a new kidney – In May 2015 she wrote on her gofundme.com/miriamskidney website: “A miracle would be a Kidney. I am on the waiting list. We need to raise money as we have to stay in Brisbane for up to 3 months with our 9 yr old daughter (possibly need a babysitter). We need to plan for out of pocket expenses.
“Our house mortgage & bills all still need to be paid & we are both disability pensioners. I am 40 years old. I still have a life to live.”
On March 13 a fundraiser will be held at the Wooli Bowling & Recreation Club, thanks to a ‘surprise’ meeting with one of her lifelong friends, Melissa Tory, at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
Melissa’s father Gerald Tory tells the story: “Melissa [who lives at the Gold Coast] … wanted to see Miriam at Tamworth, so we went up and stood there while she and her daughter Lillie and her partner Campbell were busking to raise money for her operation.
“Miriam told the crowd that Melissa had been her friend for all of these years. Afterwards, Melissa said, ‘Dad we’ve got to do something’.
“I’m one of the directors of the bowling club at Wooli, so I approached the president, Phil Baynham, and he said go ahead and do it.”
The event starts at 11am and features eight country acts, some of which will travel hundreds of kilometres to perform, says Gerald.
There will be barefoot bowls, kids’ activities, a sausage sizzle and lots of raffles thanks to the many Clarence Valley businesses that have made donations to the cause.
Miriam says it was a “really big shock and a big surprise” to see Melissa on Peel Street at Tamworth; “we have been friends since primary school; we used to travel on the Lawrence bus together”.
Miriam, Lillie and Campbell call their group ‘Country Heritage’. Miriam says that their busking was also aimed at raising awareness about organ donation.
“We had fun doing it … we enjoy every minute of playing music on the street and meeting people.
“We raised a lot of awareness and met a lot of lovely people while we were in Tamworth.”
Miriam describes the wait for a kidney as a lottery – three lotteries to be exact: she’s on the deceased donor list, the paired exchange program and, now, following medical studies, her partner Campbell might be able to donate one of his kidneys, despite having a different blood type.
“The Red Cross have worked out that there are different types of antibodies that a person can carry,” says Miriam.
“They have run my blood through another series of tests and have worked out that I have the better half of the antibodies out of the two different types; and they have then since wanted to rematch … our blood again. They can counteract [the blood type mismatch] with different drugs; it’s basically called ‘dodging bullets’.
“They try to rule out everything that could go wrong and dodge as many bullets as possible to come up with the best scenario.
“We’ve just received the results … and if it turns out that if there is no better match in the paired exchange program [this] week, when they do the cross matching, Campbell will actually be able to donate his kidney directly to me.”
Miriam and Campbell should know the results as the Independent goes to press.
The Australian Kidney Exchange (AKX) Program uses a computer program to search a database of registered recipient/donor pairs – made up of a person needing a kidney transplant and willing living donor – to look for combinations, where the donor in an incompatible blood type pair can be matched to a recipient in another pair.
Miriam says that the average wait for a deceased donor for her O-negative blood group is five to seven years.