Raised in Centralia, former executive director of the Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce Jim Valley, 53, is now suffering from kidney failure.
Along with the help of his wife, 51-year old Kari Valley, he is urgently searching for a live donor to help facilitate a kidney transplant.
After graduating from Centralia High School in 1988, Jim Valley eventually moved after a brief stint at Centralia College to study at Washington State University. He returned in 2009 and became the chamber’s director.
Then, in 2012, Jim Valley was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder known as granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA), which causes swelling in blood vessels and, if it isn’t caught soon enough, damage to vital organs.
Following his initial diagnosis, doctors were able to treat his GPA without any major organ damage occurring. Jim Valley suffered another GPA flareup in 2020, though, and this time it caused damage.
“It spread and it wasn’t caught in time,” Jim Valley said, later adding, “It spread to my heart, my liver, my kidneys, other various organs, and it caused a lot of scarring on my kidneys.”
His kidneys failed, and he’s been stuck on peritoneal dialysis for about seven hours per day since the summer of 2021. He is currently on the cadaver kidney donor list, but is likely in for a long wait to receive one.
According to Kari Valley, the average wait time on the cadaver list is about three years. Children are usually the priority, which she said is understandable.
“He’s got about another year, year and a half to go (on the cadaver kidney donor list), but that’s why we’re on a search for a live donor,” said Kari Valley. “Anybody can be a kidney donor.”
If a live donor is found, the transplant can occur quickly.
She also said those interested in seeing if they could be a donor can do so anonymously, and if it turns out a person is a compatible donor, Jim Valley’s insurance company, not the donor’s, will pay for the transplant surgery.
His blood type is A+, meaning a potential donor can have an A+, A-, O+ or O- blood type.
As he’s currently being treated at the University of Washington Medical Center, the couple have moved to Kirkland to shorten the drive to the hospital. The University of Washington Medical Center has an online registration that is free to fill out for potential donors and a hotline potential donors can call too.
Once a potential donor has registered either online or over the phone, they will be sent a packet that contains testing materials to see if someone is a match.
Though he’s been on the cadaver kidney list for close to two years, Jim Valley just recently got on the live donor list this past January.
Anyone interested in seeing if they are a potential donor can visit https://uw.donorscreen.org/register/now to register for a testing packet.
Additionally, those interested can also call the University of Washington Medical Center’s donor hotline at 206-598-3627 for a testing packet.
“We just want to get him healthy again. He’s done so much good for the Lewis County community,” Kari Valley said. “From being ASB (associated student body) president at Centralia High School, his family is very vested in the community, and also he was the chamber director while we lived there. We feel like he gave a lot to the community, so we’re asking back from the community in return.”