When the workday ends for Debbie Zeni, she returns to her Glendale home to her husband and two children, Ava, 8, and Dario, 9.
But before she can spend time with them, she has to meet with another member of the household: Nancy #3.
Nancy #3 is Zeni’s dialysis machine and its name was coined by her two children as it is now the third one to have taken residence in their home.
Zeni needs to use it each day for over two hours because she has a condition called polycystic kidney disease, a hereditary condition where cysts form on the kidney.
Both of her kidneys have been completely non-functional for almost two years, so she needs Nancy #3 to survive.
“It is a real hardship each day,” Zeni said. “But you just have to keep fighting and not give up hope.”
Zeni’s appearance would not cause anyone to think that she is fighting for her life each day, and many times when she breaks the news to people, they respond with a look of disbelief.
This also applies to James Deifel, one of Zeni’s friends who also is suffering from kidney complications. Deifel, a Glendale resident and father of two, has a condition called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), which has currently depleted his kidney function to about 16 percent.
Still, each day, he gets up and goes to work for Verizon in order to support his wife, Claudia, and two children, Julia, 9, and Michael, 13.
There is no cure for either Zeni or Deifel’s diseases. The only option for either is a kidney transplant.
Each has gone to family members and are on a transplant list, but neither has found a match.
But they are not giving up hope and neither is Deifel’s wife, who is now trying to up the chances to find a donor by using social media.
Last week, Claudia Deifel started a Facebook page called “Glendale Kidney,” where she has listed both her husband’s and Zeni’s conditions along with their case managers’ information. The page has already received more than 1,500 shares, and she is hoping that getting the word out to the community and beyond will better the chances of finding donors.
“I thought to myself, let me start with the community and get the word out to people,” Claudia Deifel said. “All I could do is keep putting the word out there and hope the right person sees it.”
Contrary to popular thought, with today’s technology, a kidney transplant requires only minimally invasive surgery. The donor would first have to take a blood test to see whether a match existed.
But both Zeni and Deifel understand the difficulty involved in kidney donation.
“We are aware it would really take a special type of person for a stranger to donate an organ to another stranger,” Zeni said, while holding Ava on her lap. “But if I get a kidney, I know I would live to a ripe old age.”
As they continue to fight, both are humbled with the overwhelming response they have gotten from the community via Facebook. They hope that as their story spreads, their chances of finding a match will grow.
“It’s great to see that friends of friends in the community have been spreading the word around,” Deifel said. “Remember, it only takes one.”
To find out more information, visit “Glendale Kidney” on Facebook.