The gift of life: be someone’s hero

by Kaitee Horstmann

Photo of Angela Mbamba.
Photo of Angela Mbamba.

Imagine depending on a machine to keep you alive and having to go to the hospital three times a week for hours a day.

This is the reality for many people around the world whose kidneys are failing, like Angela Mbamba, a student at West Virginia University.

Mbamba is originally from Kenya  and came to the U.S. to attend a four-year school.

When Mbamba was just a little girl, she had to have one of her kidneys removed because it hadn’t been functioning correctly since birth.

“I guess I knew that something was wrong,” Mbamba said. “I was doing things that normal children didn’t have to do.”

After having her kidney removed, she went back to living a relatively normal life. Mbamba left Africa and came to the U.S., in order to go to college.

“My mom wanted me to get a chance to integrate into U.S. culture,” she said. “She wanted me to go to a community college first.”

Mbamba and her family decided on FM because of its small size and came to the conclusion that it would be a good place for her to get used to American culture.

“FM was more than just a community college and more like a place I called home for my first few years in the U.S.,” she said.

After FM she transferred to West Virginia University to begin working on her degree in Public Relations.

While attending the University, Mbamba received shocking news. While in the hospital for an unrelated reason, she was told that her kidney was failing.

“It was pretty bad,” she said. “I was really, really heartbroken to say the least. It completely changed my life.”

Her kidney is failing due to all of the strain it endures from working on its own. Mbamba is on a transplant list, but is in a position where she may not be able to get a kidney for another eight years.

“My doctors want me to find a living donor,” she said. “They say if they could donate to me they would.”

Mbamba is on dialysis and has to have her treatments three times a week.

“Johns Hopkins is a phenomenal hospital,” she said.

Currently Mbamba is working on spreading the word about her story out and trying to find a living donor.

“I think a lot of people are afraid of something like this,” she said.

She wants more people to understand what it means to be a donor and realize what a miracle it can be for someone like her.

“If people are more aware and willing to learn, that’s really all I’m asking,” she said. “I really want to get better.”

To learn more about Mbamba’s story and how you can help, you can visit her website at

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