CADYVILLE - Marylou Downs Duquette was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease when she was 14 years old. Over the years, she saw little evidence of the genetic disorder in her daily life. Through the birth of her daughter, Lindsey Moore, and her oldest son, Matthew Moore, everything seemed fine, said Duquette. It wasn't until near the end of her pregnancy with her youngest son, Logan Duquette, that she began to feel the effects of her disease.
"My kidney functions started to deteriorate," said Duquette, "and they've been up and down since then in the past two years."
The erratic behavior of her kidneys has caused them to enlarge, said Duquette, leading to pressure on her stomach and other organs, even causing back pain which has grown progressively worse.
In January, the now 44-year-old Duquette met with her doctor who reviewed her case and ultimately told Duquette she needed to start looking for a kidney donor within her family.
"I was shocked," Duquette said of the news. "I knew my numbers were up and down, but I didn't think I'd need a transplant this soon."
Immediately, Duquette began making changes in her daily routine to accommodate her poor kidney function, including putting herself on vegetarian diet. She and her sisters, Peggy Guynup and Betty Bassett, soon underwent testing to see which of the two would be a likely candidate for the transplant.
In the end, Bassett was determined to be a potential donor.
"I was ecstatic," said Duquette.
"I certainly felt a great sense of relief knowing at least one of us could be a donor," said Bassett. "We always knew she'd eventually need a kidney, but we didn't know it would be this early in her life."
Bassett and Duquette learned of the good news not long before a spaghetti dinner benefit was held in Duquette's honor at American Legion Post 20 in Plattsburgh last Saturday. The combination of knowing her sister could be a donor and the overwhelming support shown to help her with her medical and travel expenses was enough to bring tears to Duquette's eyes.
"It means everything to me," Duquette said. "I especially can't say enough about my family. They've been right there from the very beginning. They went through a lot for that fundraiser and did a lot of work. I was just amazed by all the support."
"We couldn't have asked for a better turnout," said Bassett. "The North Country is such a supportive community."
With her sister now a confirmed match, the next step for Duquette is to go over surgery options with her doctor. There are two ways the transplant could be handled, she said. The first would involve an operation to remove her kidneys, followed by two months of dialysis while her body rests, then a second operation to transplant her sister's kidney.
The other option is to remove the kidneys and transplant the new one all in one operation, though Duquette said she has been told there is a higher risk of infection with the combined operations.
Regardless, Duquette, who is a daycare provider, will likely be out of work for several months, leading to the need for last Saturday's benefit, said Bassett.
"When you're doing something like that, you have no idea how many people are going to come," said Bassett, who helped organize the event with Guynup and other family members. "But, we ended up running out of dinners, so it was a huge success."
Those who were unable to attend the benefit may still send donations to in care of Duquette to 62 Downs Road, Cadyville N.Y. 12918. Donations may also be arranged by contacting Bassett at 593-7889 or Guynup at 578-1705.
"When all is said and done, if there is anything left, we'll pay it forward," said Bassett.