In early March, Miriam Yarde started a GoFundMe page to raise $10,000 for the medical bills and living costs that will arise when she receives a life-saving kidney transplant.
Less than two months later, the 24-year-old former foster youth and University of California-Berkeley graduate has almost reached her mark on the crowd-sourced fundraising page, and has boosted her goal to $20,000.
Beyond that, the executive director of a foster care crowdfunding platform called One Simple Wish, launched a campaign to help Yarde. For Danielle Gletow – who founded the organization back in 2008, and has been lavished with positive press since, including a 2013 nod by CNN Heroes – giving everyday people a chance to help current or former foster youth like Yarde is deeply personal.
While having never entered foster care herself, Gletow struggled with severe mental health issues in her early teen years, even spending time in a residential treatment facility. Since launching, One Simple Wish has given out nearly 15,000 wishes, ranging from electronic devices to cheer lessons to assisting with serious medical conditions like Yarde’s.
“I don’t know all these kids,” Gletow said. “But, I see a little piece of me in them, and I want them to know that people care about them.”
So far the campaign dedicated to helping Yarde through her kidney transplant has brought in almost $10,000.
“I’m honestly very surprised but I’m extremely grateful, and I’m excited as well because it means I will be able to take care of the expenses that I’ll incur,” Yarde said. “It’s alleviating my stress of taking care of those bills, and so I’m just extremely grateful that people are so generous.”
The Chronicle of Social Change wrote about Yarde in March and partnered with the Long Beach Press Telegram to put the story in front of readers in Yarde’s hometown of Long Beach, California.
Yarde grew up in several different foster homes in Long Beach and later moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for college.
In her sophomore year at U.C. Berkeley, Yarde was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, a form of kidney disease. She has since undergone five surgeries, multiple blood transfusions, and numerous other hospital stays, all while managing her undergraduate coursework and now a full-time job as a legal assistant.
She is currently studying for the law school entrance exam, with tentative plans to take it in July. But she may have to postpone the exam if she receives a kidney transplant surgery in the coming months.
The average wait time for a kidney transplant is four years, and Yarde has been on the list for three and a half years. Recently, Yarde’s financial coordinator at the hospital told her she could receive a transplant at any time this year or next year, she said. That prompted her to start the GoFundMe page.
Yarde said her chances of receiving the transplant soon improved last week when a man she has never met – a friend of her cousin – offered to donate his kidney to her after learning about her situation on Facebook. The hospital is evaluating whether he would be a good candidate, Yarde said.
Although Yarde’s health insurance will cover the cost of the surgery when a kidney is available, she will need several extremely expensive anti-rejection medications to sustain the transplanted kidney.
For her part, Gletow hopes that the funds raised through One Simple Wish can be used in the months after the transplant, when Yarde will be unable to work and will face mounting medical bills.
“She [Yarde] is the toughest chick, doing four hours of dialysis and then going to work,” Gletow said. “With Miriam, you don’t have to care about child welfare or foster care to help someone who really needs it.”
Daniel Heimpel contributed to this story.