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Organ Donation Program Coordinator Hopes For Long Shot For Kidney

Vikki Tulcus

Vikki Tulcus, coordinator of the Organ Donor Program at the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office, is herself in need of a kidney transplant. (Credit: Steve Miller/WBBM Newsradio/CBS)

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Steve Miller is an investigative reporter and has been with Newsradio...
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CHICAGO (CBS) — The coordinator of the organ donation program for the Illinois Secretary of State’s office has received some news this week about her own health.

“How could this be happening to me?” said Vikki Tulcus, who has been the face of the organ donation program at the Secretary of State’s office for five years. “I’m supposed to be out there helping people.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports

As WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports, Tulcus got sick in 2009, and found out she needed a kidney transplant. This week, she learned that her wait for a kidney may be even longer than she’d thought.

“I just learned some interesting news yesterday from my doctor that I will only match statistically 3 percent of the population,” she said. “So you’re talking waiting maybe 14 years for a kidney.”

The reason is antigens in Tulcus’ blood from numerous transfusions she has received.

Tulcus says it’s because of all the blood transfusions she’s received.

But there are treatments that could at least improve her odds.

“My doctor started explaining, ‘OK, it’s a grim outlook. But we can try this…’ There’s a treatment that’ll maybe break down the antigens in my blood that make me a hard match,” she said.

Tulcus says her perspective has changed.

“When I worked before, I thought, ‘OK, you wait. You get your kidney. Maybe you wait a long time,’” she said. “I never realized that maybe there’d be a chance you’re not going to get a kidney.”

This reality, she says, points to the need for more people to become donors.