Phoenix radio personality helps Valley mom find kidney donor

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Genna Camacho and her ex-husband pre-op By Catherine Holland Genna Camacho and her ex-husband pre-op By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Mathew Blades, the morning host on MIX 96.9, features all kinds of stories on his radio show, but perhaps none more important than that of Genna Camacho.

This single mother of two is getting a kidney transplant today, and Blades helped make it happened

Camacho has polycystic kidney disease. By the time she was diagnosed, her kidney function was down to about 19 percent. She needed a transplant and she needed it to happen quickly. Because polycystic kidney disease is an inherited condition -- it runs in families -- a donation from her kids or any blood relatives was out of the question.

“It’s horrible," Camacho's sister, Rachel Muralles, told 3TV's Crystal Cruz in June. "I have an overwhelming guilt because I can't give it to her.”

There are more than 80,000 people on the kidney transplant waiting list, according to Living Kidney Donors Network. A person could wait for five years. Camacho, 42, didn't have that kind of time.

What more, LKDN says 4,500 people die every year, waiting for the kidney that could save them.

Camacho and Muralles, watched their father struggle with the same disease, nursing him as his kidneys failed.

Muralles wasn't about to let the same thing happened to her big sis.

"You can't sit back and wait for someone to die for you to get a kidney," she said. "You have to get a living kidney somehow."

That "somehow" included looking online for donors, putting up a Facebook page and even posting an ad on Craigslist. Yes, Craigslist.

This is where Blades comes in. After he put Camacho's story on his radio show, a donor was located. That donor was tested and matched, but it all fell through at the 11th hour and Camacho was right back where she started.

Then she got a call from an unlikely source -- her ex-husband. Feeling bad about what had happened with Camacho's original donor, he got tested himself. And was a match.

"We still talk and we have kids together," Camacho said, explaining that he told her he didn't want their kids to lose their mother.

"That's why he did it," she continued. "One thing that I really hope is the outcome of all this is that people do take that step forward and donate. There are so many people that are walking around that have that ability to actually save another life."

"It almost makes you want to cry," Blades said of how everything finally came together. "I'm so thrilled that we finally found somebody. And who knew this whole time that it was the guy in her backyard? It's just crazy."

Camacho and her husband, who did not want to go on camera with 3TV, underwent surgery Friday. They'll both spend about a week in the hospital. After that, Camacho will need to recuperate at home for about eight more weeks.

Blades plans to chat with Camacho on the radio Tuesday morning.