Denmark woman gets help as she battles kidney disease

DENMARK, Wis. (WBAY) - A Denmark mother says she's overwhelmed by the outpouring of support as she battles kidney disease.

For Carina DeGrave the hardest part is the impact on her family.

"Being a mom, seeing my kids have to see me sick," DeGrave says, wiping away tears.

But despite the constant pain, lack of energy, and uncertainty, DeGrave also knows what it means to have great friends.

"It means the world. They're wonderful, they're good girls," says DeGrave.

For the past 17 years, DeGrave has lived with Polycystic Kidney Disease, an inherited disorder in which clusters of cysts develop in the kidneys causing them to enlarge and lose function.

"I'll be the 18th transplant in our family," DeGrave says, "and there were five people that passed away with it and three children, babies that passed away at birth with it."

As her disease progressed over the past two years, DeGrave made several trips to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for intensive transplant testing.

Just Monday, she underwent surgery so she can begin dialysis while she waits.

"You can't even begin to imagine the dollar amount that it's going to take for them to recover from all this, so that's why we're here to help her," says Mindy Johnson, Carina's friend.

On Saturday, Johnson and two other friends are holding a benefit for DeGrave at Beverly Gardens outside Denmark.

More than 400 donated items have come in, in just six weeks.

"I'm a Denmark native, and it just warms my heart how much the community, Northeast Wisconsin has come together for this," says Johnson.

And whether her transplant comes from a living donor, which so far no match has been found, or a kidney bank, for which the wait could be up to five years, the outpouring of support gives DeGrave faith for a long, healthy life.

"Just to be a wonderful person and do wonderful things for other people because people have done amazing things for me," says DeGrave.

Click here for the Carina DeGrave Go Fund Me page.

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