Vikki Tulcus is an amazing advocate for organ and tissue donation. She has spent the last 10 years of her career building organ and tissue donation awareness and encouraging Illinois residents to register as lifesaving donors. Vikki’s journey within the field of donation became very personal in 2009 when she was diagnosed with a renal disease that will eventually require a kidney transplant.
Throughout April, Vikki is featured in Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s commercial to promote organ and tissue donation. Below, Vikki tells her story in both video and print.
For the past 10 years, I have worked within the field of organ and tissue donation. My roles have, primarily, allowed me to work with donation recipients and donor families to promote organ and tissue donation throughout Illinois. I began my career with Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network where I gained valuable insight into donation and my eyes were opened to the overwhelming need for registered organ and tissue donors.
In 2007, I joined the Illinois Secretary of State Organ/Tissue Donor Program as the Community Outreach Coordinator for Chicago where I continue to work tirelessly to build organ and tissue donation awareness. My job responsibilities have me traveling the state and working closely with Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White to encourage Illinois residents to register as lifesaving organ and tissue donors.
My personal and professional lives became enmeshed on November 13, 2009, when I became extremely ill. I knew something was drastically wrong when breathing became difficult and I grew too weak to walk. I thought it was just an extreme asthma attack and went to the emergency room after my condition worsened. My situation was critical, and doctors worked to save my life. Within hours, I was diagnosed with Wegner’s Syndrome—a rare, autoimmune disease that is chronic and can be fatal. I was told that I was in renal failure and required immediate dialysis.
Since that day, my life has changed dramatically. I continue to work full time for the Illinois Secretary of State and juggle the responsibilities of daily life. But, each night, I hook myself up to a machine that spends the next 10 hours doing the work that my kidneys no longer can do. My name has been added to the national transplant waiting list for a kidney. Each day, I hope for my lifesaving gift. Unfortunately, in Illinois, the average wait time for a kidney transplant is approximately seven years.
As I wait for a new kidney, I find hope in the stories of recipients who are grateful for their second chance at life. When I search for a meaning for my illness, I am inspired by stories of heroes who have selflessly donated their organs and tissue to save others. Each day that I wait, I am hopeful that a donor will save my life.
– Vikki Tulcus, Community Outreach Coordinator, Illinois Secretary of State’s Organ/Tissue Donor Program
Give Vikki and more than 5,000 Illinois residents a second chance at life by registering your decision to be an organ and tissue donor at DonateLifeIllinois.org! Learn more about Vikki and the Illinois Secretary of State’s Organ/Tissue Donor Program at LifeGoesOn.com.