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Fighting Against All Odds

Tori Holton’s Fight Against Kidney Failure and the Hunt for a Donor

Sawyer Giles and Sydnie Ho

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There is no way to define a normal life. The idea that there is some sort of ideal, palpable normal life is a lie. What we see as “normal” in people around us is usually a facade. We have no idea what they are actually feeling or experiencing. This dream of  “normal” can change at any moment. For senior Tori Holton, her normal changed in an instant and her life question changed from “how” to “when.”

Tori’s innate ability to smile makes her one of the happiest people in our school. With her constant laughter and  hilarious jokes, you might not ever know that behind those smiles is pain, a pain nobody should have to live with. Her story begins at the start of junior year. As swim season came around, Tori had to get a routine urine test as part of her yearly physical. The doctors found an unusually large amount of blood and protein in her urine. When Tori went home that day, her mom told her not to worry and that it was probably nothing. She agreed and began to forget about it. As time progressed, however, it seemed something was wrong. “I had an ultrasound and they saw both of my kidneys were scarred. Then I had a biopsy and they figured out that I only had 15% of both of my kidneys left and there was nothing they could do about it. All they could do was try and stop the scarring from happening,” said Tori.

Staring January of last year, Tori began taking a steroid called prestesin, and an oral form of chemotherapy. It started affecting her appearance, weight, hair loss, and ultimately, her personality. “One of the biggest things I noticed was her personality started to change. She was really happy and uplifting and a really fun person to be around, when she went on these new medications, I really noticed a shift in her personality,” said friend, Jared Licht.  

This change in Tori’s life was incredibly difficult. “There are times where it really gets to me and I miss a lot of school because I’m so depressed and can’t get out of bed.” With the constant trips to the hospital, the medication’s effect on Tori’s personality, and the change in appearance, her self-confidence was wounded. “I just can’t live normally now, at least for now. It kind of makes me jealous of other people.” At this stage in our lives we are all trying to plan our futures. Imagine if all of your plans got ruined. You made the plans and they all got ruined. How do you bounce back from that? How do you find the strength to just get up and make new plans? For Tori, her only option was to change her life perspective completely.

Coming off of medication at the end of junior year, Tori finally started to go back to her normal self and changed her outlook on life. “I feel like I try to be upbeat about it. I feel like not a lot of people really know just because I think I’m good at hiding it. Through everything, she has the unconditional support of her friends and family, “my friends have been really helpful through it all, they never really looked at me differently and they’re really supportive. They just make my world seem less crazy and don’t just see me as this girl ‘with this disease.’”

Through her tortuous journey, Tori’s perspective on life has shifted. She’s realized how much life is worth. “I was so scared I wasn’t going to be able to go to college, so just being able to would be amazing. I always have to think about if I am going to be okay to do something. School is really hard to keep up with, but it’s definitely changed my perspective. It’s hard to not feel bad for myself but I have also had a new appreciation for life and how good it used to be and that it can get better.”

As of right now, Tori’s condition is unknown, but is similar to glomerulonephritis. “Nobody has ever really seen anything like this before, or it’s more extreme than anything we’ve ever seen.” Tori is in need of a new kidney. She is scheduled to get surgery on March 30th to form a fistula using her veins and arteries in her arm and move through with dialysis–spending days in the hospital for hours at a time, hooked up to a machine that function as her kidneys. Although her condition is less than favorable, Tori is fighting through every bit of the process while still shining bright with her optimistic personality.

Tori and her family are trying to focus on finding a local (Colorado) kidney donor. Blood type A or 0. If you are interested in finding out more about donating, we implore you to visit the page “Toristrong” on Facebook. There, you can access updates of her journey and the progress she is making toward recovery.

Visit  http://www.uchealthlivingdonor.org/  to fill out a survey and find out if you are eligible to donate a kidney to Tori.

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