INDIANAPOLIS -- Just hours before leaving to represent Indiana at the U.S. Miss International Pageant, Joy Araujo learned she’d have to miss it this year – because a donor kidney had been found for her.
Araujo has waited for years for that call. She has lived with kidney disease since she was 10 years old. Since the age of 17 she has been on 11 hours of peritoneal dialysis per day after her body rejected her first kidney transplant.
Last week, Araujo shared her story with RTV6 ahead of leaving for the national Miss International Pageant this week. At the time, she was expecting to compete in the pageant while undergoing dialysis.
"I could be wallowing in my depression, and saying 'I can't do anything because I am on dialysis,'" she said. "But that is not how I want to live my life. I want to live it with gusto. I want to go out and seize the day."
But on Sunday, Araujo got the call she’s been waiting for: a donor kidney was available for her.
“My heart was pounding,” Araujo said in a message to RTV6. “I waited all day to see if it was viable and got a call back around 6:30 p.m. They said be at the hospital around 8 p.m. that night. I packed a bag and left! I went into surgery at 7:30 this morning. I will miss this year’s pageant but will try to go next year if allowed. I got an overwhelmingly positive response from the RTV6 story. I'm still trying to start classes at Anderson come August 28! I might go in a wheelchair and mask, but I'm planning on going!”
Araujo founded the Donor Appreciation Network to help thank those who have offered to give her a kidney and others who have made the sacrifice.