REALITY is starting to hit Diane Townsend. The Ballarat grandmother and cafe owner will learn on Monday whether she can donate a live kidney to her grandson.
Family is making a final fundraising push this weekend, with an entertainment afternoon at The Nerrina, to help cover costs for Ms Townsend and her grandson Austin Armstrong, who lives in Portland, to help with post-surgery costs.
Initially, fundraising was partly to help keep the Townsend’s Main Road coffee shop Stuff2Eat, which Diane and her husband Barry risked losing with Diane’s required, extended time off work to recover.
Ms Townsend said the outpouring of support from the Ballarat community, particularly in new customers and the regulars chipping in change, had created a steady stream of income since telling her story to The Courier in March. In turn, this means more fundraising could support Austin and her daughter Renee in the stream of post-transplant surgery appointment in Melbourne.
Her business under control, Ms Townsend said the surgery she was confronting was starting to sink in.
“I had been blasé about it all. My kids are pretty nervous because it’s not just their nephew they’re worried about, it’s me too,” Ms Townsend said. “I struggled through testing a lot more than I thought. It was a lot more gruelling and emotional than I thought it would be...My worst nightmare now would be if they tell me I was no longer able to donate.”
A surgeon at the Austin Hospital will confirm on Monday whether Ms Townsend, aged 56, was a tissue match for Austin. If not, Ms Townsend was considering entering a pool of donors to help people still searching for a suitable match.
The family has known all along Austin would inevitably need a kidney transplant before he reached his teenage years. When Austin was born, one kidney disappeared and the other, under-developed, has been hanging on. Austin is now facing dialysis unless he finds a suitable donor soon.
Austin’s condition also means he has no appetite. He is tube-fed every night from 10pm to 2am. A new kidney should restore Austin’s appetite.
A fundraising event for the family, with live bands, raffles and food, is at The Nerrina from noon on Sunday. Details, visit Stuff2Eat on Main Road or online gofundme.com/zzgbzew4.
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