Local woman advocates for organ, blood donation after receiving kidney transplant

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A local woman is advocating for blood and organ donations after she received a devastating diagnosis years ago. (WLS)

A local woman is advocating for blood and organ donations after she received a devastating diagnosis years ago.

Kristen Mill was just 25 years old when she began feeling soreness and pain in her joints.

"I had to stop wearing regular shoes, I could only wear slippers. I would have trouble getting dressed in the morning because I couldn't bend, my joints didn't work right," said Mill. "I researched online...and everything pointed to Lyme disease."

Mill had tested negative for Lyme disease, going undiagnosed for five years.

"I was basically bedridden," said Mill.

Finally, Mill saw a specialist who diagnosed her with a tick-borne illness, similar to Lyme disease.

After years of antibiotics and dialysis, Mill received a kidney transplant in June.

Throughout it all, her passion for horses kept her going.

"I have no cartilage in any of my joints according to my x-rays, so I shouldn't be able to walk, but riding horses has saved me from that, so I can walk and even run a tiny bit, not much," Mill said.

Riding horses helped Mill build up strength.

"I would get on that horse almost every day, even if I could only walk, but it kept my muscles built up so that now that I'm internally healthy enough to do those things, my muscles and ligaments can keep up with me," said Mill.

Now that she's healthy again, she's adding advocating to her list of passions - raising awareness about the importance of organ and blood donation.

"It's very worth it, and to donate blood is just about the easiest thing you can ever do, you can do it on your lunch break. So I just think that people really should take the time out of their day, because you never know who you're going to help," Mill said.

The ABC 7 Great Chicago Blood Drive will be held Jan. 10 at two locations -- Merchandise Mart, 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza in Chicago; and at the Drake Oak Brook Hotel, 2301 York Rd. in Oak Brook. Hours at both sites are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Register by calling 1-800-Red-Cross or by downloading the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org (enter sponsor code: "ABC7Chicago")

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