ONLY on KRON4: Despite bad odds, Modesto mother in need of kidney transplant staying positive for donor


MODESTO (KRON) — A Modesto mother in need of a kidney transplant is nowhere near the top of the list to get one.

Out of desperation, her family has posted signs on cars driving throughout the Bay Area to hopefully find a donor on their own.

KRON4’s Alecia Reid sat down with the woman who is trying to remain positive.

It’s a story you’ll see Only on KRON4.

Looking at her, you would never know Harrison’s doctors say it’s miracle she’s still alive.

“When I hit 12 percent, people kind of freaking out that, ‘Oh it may be serious,'” Dorilyn Harrison said.

She’s been living with polycystic kidney disease for almost three decades. And it’s getting progressively worse.

The former assistant principal had to give up her passion for working with teens six years ago. Back then, her kidney function was 30 percent.

Now, it’s dropped to 9 percent.

“It is scary. I try not to think about it, it’s really hard, because there’s nothing I can do,” Harrison said. “I’m doing everything I can.”

The disorder runs in her family. Her father received a transplant from a family friend years ago but died from complications last year.

It doesn’t end there.

“I have an uncle who’s on dialysis, and I have an aunt who’s…like me, just kind of waiting,” Harrison said.

Waiting for a donor, it is unclear how much time she has left, so her mother took matters into her own hands.

So, she created signs. They’re posted on about two dozen cars in and around the Bay Area.

And people are responding.

“Some people get returned thank you, but no thank you right away,” Harrison said. “Others are like yes, great, and then they have a coordinator call them, and they start moving towards the blood tests, and the urine tests and all sorts of other tests,” Harrison said.

But so far, no matches. And time is running out. Harrison should be on dialysis by now.

By the time one’s kidneys fail, there’s a list of symptoms that’ll be present.

1. Shaking or shortness of breath

2. Heart pain

3. Nausea/vomiting

4. And food will start tasting metallic

“Until I have all those symptoms, I’m going to think positively,” Harrison said.

With her kidneys barely keeping her alive, she takes a lot of medication every day–too much to count.

Her average wait time for a donor is six-to-eight years. It has already been three years.

“California, we have the biggest waiting list than anyone,” June Wallace of Donor Network West said.

If Dorilyn is lucky enough to get a kidney transplant, it can happen in as little as three months. With blood type O, she’s a universal donor but can only receive from another type O.

According to UCSF, only 1 out of every 5 people survive long enough to get a kidney. Both of her kidneys will need to be removed.

Dorilyn is trying to keep her spirits high

But her family knows, it’s a defense mechanism.

“Sometimes I worry. Sometimes I wish she would say how she does feel. It is not going to really change anything. It just lets me know how she feels and stuff,” Harrison’s son Grant said.

Dorilyn has seen this scene play out before and doesn’t want her son seeing her suffer, or tested for the disease.

“There’s no cure,” Harrison said. “There’s nothing they can do. He’d just know about it.”

So until Dorilyn finds a donor, she will wait and cherish every moment she can spend with her family.

To contact Dorilyn, email her at

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