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Madras woman seeks kidney donor

Michele (Cox) RuscignoRetired Madras Elementary teacher Michele (Cox) Ruscigno, who taught hundreds of local second-graders, is in need of a kidney transplant, and is seeking people willing to be a donor.

Two people have already volunteered as donors, but not everyone is a match and a donor must pass testing for compatibility. Doctors told Ruscigno she should try to get 10 people willing to be tested.

Her son, Brandon Cox, 28, of Seattle, offered to be a donor. “I wasn’t even going to ask him,” Ruscigno said. And her good friend and fellow teacher Tracy Childress surprised her, saying, “Absolutely, I will.”

Ruscigno is beginning to experience signs of kidney failure after 49 years of living with diabetes. She started having problems five years ago, and said lab tests showed a decrease in kidney function.

“I feel fine now, but decided to have the surgery while I’m still healthy and young enough, so it will work,” she said.

Kidney transplants from deceased organ donors do not last as long, plus the waiting list is long and can take over two years to be selected. Since people can live with just one kidney, finding a live donor is the other option.

She is seeking a healthy, living donor between the age of 18 and 65. Her insurance will pay all expenses for both her surgery and the donor’s surgery to remove the kidney.

Potential donors need to have compatibility lab work done, and talk to a social worker to be sure it’s something they want to do. Kidney donations can also be done anonymously, if a person desires. If someone donates a kidney and later finds out they need one, their name goes to the top of the waiting list, she noted.

Ruscigno, known by many students as Mickey Cox, began teaching at Madras Elementary in 1974. She taught fourth grade for four years, third grade one year, then taught second grade for the next 25 years. She retired in 2006 after a total of 30 years in teaching.

Anyone interested in volunteering to be tested as a donor should call Legacy Transplant Services at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center in Portland. Ask for Margaret Marksthaler, the living donor intake specialist. The toll-free number is 1-877-622-8030, or direct dial 503-413-7349, or email HYPERLINK "mailto: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. " This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . For more information, view the website HYPERLINK "http://www.legacylivingkidneydonor.org" www.legacylivingkidneydonor.org.



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