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'Looking for help': Worden woman continues search for kidney on Billings streets

Searching since 2022
Chris Coats next to her signs on 6th Ave North
Posted at 5:16 PM, Mar 16, 2024

BILLINGS — Chris Coats is still searching for a kidney along the streets of Billings nearly two years after she began looking.

"I do have 'O' blood type. Which (means) I can give to anybody but can only receive from Type O," Coats told MTN News on Saturday. "So that does make it a little bit more difficult."

The 69-year-old Worden woman knew she had to get creative when looking for a match and took to the streets—crafting neon-green signs in hopes of catching passing motorists' attention.

"I can do it on (private) property with the permission of the owner," Coats told MTN News on Saturday. "Pacific (Steel) is very good to me. They don't mind me sitting here at all."

Chris Coats
Chris Coats

According to the National Kidney Foundation, after being added to a transplant list, the average wait time for a match can take up to five years. There are currently 92,000 people waiting for a kidney nationwide.

"I'm told three years is very common. So, I'm a little over halfway towards that third year," Coats said. "I was surprised to hear my doctor say she thought I should already have (a match)."

March is National Kidney Month, a time to highlight the hard-working organ. According to the National Institute of Health, our kidneys filter all our blood up to 25 times per day.

"I'm looking for help," said Coats. "It's a real balancing act right now because (my) kidneys aren't doing the job they're supposed to."

Coats was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a genetic disorder, when she was a child. The wife, mother, and grandmother has been trying to find a match to save her life since 2022.

Diagram from Mayo Clinic of a normal kidney and a PKD kidney
Diagram from Mayo Clinic of a normal kidney and a PKD kidney

"(I've been dealing with it) all my life," Coats said. "I've worked at it all my life and I'm still working at it."

She says she tries her best to stay on top of her health and is exploring every possible avenue for treatment.

"My kidney doctor... is getting me connected with Denver. I think they've recently opened up their area to the Billings and Montana area," Coats said. "In May, we'll do a health check with them here in Billings."

Searching for a kidney donor
Searching for a kidney donor

Coats said she finds the strength to push forward in her grandchildren.

"I like to be realistic with the children. I mean, I tell them that I don't know how my health's going to be. I'm trying very hard to keep my health up," Coats said. "(My grandchildren) take care of me. They really are my reason to get up every day."

A fundraising page has been set up by Coats' daughter to assist with expenses. While many have stopped to chat with Coats, a donor is still needed.

"Last year when I was standing here, a man stopped and he said that he was a donor. He had a very good experience with it," said Coats. "He's happy to share. Talk about it. And so he gave me his name and phone number."

If you know of any Type O donors willing to connect with Coats, call 406-740-0076 or click here to visit her Facebook page.

To read MTN's first report on Coats, click here.

To learn more about PKD, click here.

To view the fundraiser set up for Coats, click here.