TEMPLE TERRACE — Mona Baker doesn’t look sick, but she knows kidney disease is effecting her body.
For the first time in her life, Baker’s name is on a waiting list she hoped to avoid. She needs a new kidney, so this year Baker became one of more than 92,000 Americans waiting for a kidney transplant.
“I haven’t talked about it much, because I don’t look sick,” said Baker, who works at the Hillsborough County Courthouse. “But my doctor says I need to talk about it to raise awareness.”
She no longer plans to remain silent about her condition.
Baker, 62, and her daughter, Angela, who also has kidney problems, plan to participate in the National Kidney Foundation’s 2013 Tampa Kidney Walk on Sunday.
They should be ease to spot.
The Bakers will be decked out in pirate gear, complete with eye patches and hooks as members of the Mona Marauders.
Angela Baker along with several friends and relatives formed the group to aid her mother’s search for a new kidney and to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation.
“I chose Mona Marauders because pirates are always appropriate in Tampa,” Angela Baker wrote on her Kidney Walk web page. “I want to raise money for a great organization that informs and advocates.”
About 18 Mona Marauders are expected to participate in the 3-mile walk, a fund raiser to draw attention to the prevention of kidney disease and the need for organ donation.
Walkers are asked to raise donations based on their participation in the walk.
Baker is not the only member of her family on the kidney transplant waiting list. Her sister, Kimberly Perretti, who was diagnosed last year with kidney disease, is on the transplant waiting list at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. Baker is registered on a similar list at Tampa General Hospital.
“My sister was diagnosed four months before me,” Baker said.
Baker planned to be her sister’s caregiver when Perretti found a donor kidney in North Florida. Those plans changed when Baker learned she also needed a new kidney.
Angela Baker, 24, who is Baker’s only child, has been ruled out as a suitable donor because of a kidney abnormality.
Baker’s preference is to be the recipient of a kidney from a living donor to reduce the chance of complications. However, she would be happy if a suitable donor is found no matter the circumstances, she said.
“For now I don’t have symptoms,” Baker said.
She also doesn’t need dialysis.
Baker considers herself fortunate.
“For years, they (physicians) had diagnosed me wrong,” said Baker, who recalled complaining of kidney problems since she was a college student in the late 1960s. “Now, they say it is Glomerulonephritis.”
Glomerulonephritis is a type of kidney disease in which the part of the kidneys that helps filter waste and fluids from the blood is damaged.
Through it all, Baker has maintained a positive attitude.
On days when she doesn’t feel well, her daughter reminds her about the success her ex-husband and Angela’s father experienced seven years ago when he received a successful kidney transplant. He remains in good health, Angela Baker said.
Baker, who is the judicial assistant to Hillsborough Circuit Judge Caroline Tesche, said she has been overwhelmed by the support from her boss, relatives, friends and attorneys she has known and worked with over the years.
Baker, who said she doesn’t like to exercise as much as her daughter, plans to walk as far as she can on Sunday, but expects her daughter will continually encourage her to complete it.
“I know she will be cracking that pirate gear,” Baker said laughing.