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Arizona woman's husband needs a kidney, so she’s making it her ‘full-time job’ finding him one

Steve Beck found out he had polycystic kidney disease 20 years ago. But only recently learned, he needs a transplant. Now, his wife is taking advocacy personally.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — At the kitchen table in Flagstaff, Ariz., Stephanie Beck holds up two sheets of paper.

The paper has dozens upon dozens of lines written across the front and back.

"These are all the places I've listed on Facebook," Stephanie Beck said. 

Stephanie estimates she's posted in more than 150 groups on the social media site trying to find her husband a living donor to get him a kidney. 

"It's tense and stressful and scary because it's out of our control," Stephanie Beck said. 

Twenty years ago, Steve Beck was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease.

This year, he learned he needs a kidney transplant. However, the transplant waiting list can take years. 

Polycystic kidney disease progresses slowly. But Steve Beck, an avid skier, started to notice the developments lately. 

"This season has been the first season where I began to feel the effects of my kidneys skiing," Steve Beck said. "I just, you know, I don't have the endurance. I don't have the strength as much." 

Polycystic kidney disease is where small cysts build up in the kidney. 

"They're not cancerous, thank goodness, but they basically take up room in the kidney," Steve Beck said. "It diminishes its capacity to function properly." 

Steve Beck said that his kidneys are functioning at about 14% of what they're supposed to. 

"An average kidney should be about the size of a fist; mine are about the size of two fists," Steve Beck said. 

While Stephanie Beck has been posting and making flyers, Steve Beck has been undergoing tests and just got approval to get on the National Transplant List. 

Unfortunately, because more than 100,000 people are on the waitlist in the United States, advocates say they’ve seen more and more people taking the search for a donor into their own hands.

“It is a little bit sad that people have to advocate for themselves in such a way, but it is because the truth is there aren’t enough viable organs that get donated each year,” said Nico Santos, a spokesperson with Donor Network of Arizona.

Santos said historically, about 80 percent of the people waiting on the National Transplant List need a kidney. 

"You could save up to eight lives just through organ donation alone," Santos said. "Then you have tissue donation, cornea donation, there's really so much that one person can do just by checking that box." 

Right now, Santos said there are about 1,600 people in Arizona who need an organ transplant. 

"We're retired," Stephanie Beck said. "But this kidney thing now has turned into a full-time job for me." 

Stephanie Beck is focused on trying to find a living donor for Steve before he has to go on dialysis. 

So far, Stephanie Beck believes 10 people have signed up to try and donate to Steve. They haven't gotten the call that Mayo Clinic has found a match for him yet. 

But, they're hoping one gift could help the grandfather of five be around for life's little moments. 

"The little ups and downs of life are really nothing compared to how precious life is each day," Steve Beck said. 

Hoping people's willingness to be a living donor, might help others too. 

"Let's say they, Lord willing, are able to finally find a kidney for me, let's say that there were 15 other people who wanted to donate, they will have the opportunity if they want, they can still donate to Mayo and help somebody else that we don't even know with a kidney," Steve Beck said.

If you are interested in becoming an organ donor, you can sign up here.

If you want to donate to be a living donor for Steve, you can sign up here. Stephanie Beck said to add his name, Steve Beck, and his date of birth, 12/27/1952. 

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