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Tucson man seeks community help in battle against kidney failure

Posted at 8:27 AM, Jun 10, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — For the past decade, Jesse Martinez has been battling kidney failure and decided to take matters into his own hands by reaching out to the Tucson community, hoping to connect with potential donors.

"I didn’t notice it until I started swelling—my hands and my feet were swelling," Martinez said.

Two and a half years ago, Martinez’s condition worsened significantly, causing him to need immediate medical intervention.

"The doctor said, 'You're at stage five. You need to get in and have your nephrologist start you on dialysis,'" Martinez said.

Dialysis has significantly impacted his daily life. "It’s been very hard; it hurts," he said. "My ability to do things like exercise has changed dramatically. I'm very, very weak with dialysis."

Despite these challenges, Martinez remains hopeful. "Dialysis actually keeps you alive, so I’m hanging by a string right now. If I don’t get a kidney, I could die," he said.

In addition to being on the transplant list, Martinez has taken proactive steps to find a donor. He passes out flyers and drives around with a QR code on his car, trying to reach as many people as possible.

"I had an idea: maybe put the QR code on there with my phone number and my name. I have had a little bit of success, but not a whole lot," Martinez said.

But Martinez does have hope, he says the Tucson community always comes through with help. "I do have hope because I know that Tucson has always been good, and they’ve always come through with things like this," he said.

Martinez hopes for a new kidney every day and encourages everyone to become an organ donor to be able to help those just like him.

Know someone who might be willing to help? Martinez invites calls at 1-520-302-6467.