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Monday, March 25 , 2019, 1:52 am | Fair 50º


Santa Barbara Teacher Ashley Somics Hopeful a 2nd Kidney Donor Will Emerge to Help Save Her Life

La Cumbre Junior High School educator was saved by her mom when she was 14, but finds herself needing a new donation now

Ashley Somics, a teacher at La Cumbre Junior High School, is in need of a new kidney and has turned to social media to raise awareness about her own plight and those of others. “I still have so much I want to do,” she says. Click to view larger
Ashley Somics, a teacher at La Cumbre Junior High School, is in need of a new kidney and has turned to social media to raise awareness about her own plight and those of others. “I still have so much I want to do,” she says. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Ashley Somics believes that she was born to teach and help others. 

So when she started experiencing excruciating pain in her classroom at La Cumbre Junior High School in Santa Barbara a little more than a year ago, she had to make a difficult decision.

“I was having bad, chronic pain,”​ Somics told Noozhawk. “That’s no way to manage a classroom. I realized I needed to take a break.”

The problems that arose in 2014 were nothing new for Somics, who has endured physical and emotional challenges since she was in elementary school.

The 30-year-old Somics needs a new kidney — for the second time in her life. Her mother, Tori, donated the first one to her daughter when she was in high school, 16 years ago. Without a second new kidney, however, she’ll have to start dialysis treatments again.

The wait could be eight to 10 years for a cadaver organ for her O blood type so Somics is hopeful that someone will come forward to donate a kidney to her. It’s a tall request, but she has turned to social media to help her cause.

Somics started a Go Fund Me campaign to raise $50,000 for medical bills. She’s shared her story on Twitter and other social media platforms, and her effort has gained national attention — virally.

It’s a bit of a jump for Somics, who never used Twitter before her social media efforts. What’s more, she has spent most of her life keeping her medical situation quiet.

“I have sort of hid my health situation my entire life,” she explained.

Somics was diagnosed with Lupus and kidney failure when she she was 11 years old. For two years she had to leave school for regular kidney dialysis, treatments she received three times a week for three hours. On school days she would still have to do her homework, even though she was physically and mentally drained.

In 1999, after Somics’ kidney showed no signs of improvement, her mother came forward and donated her organ.

“It was an easy decision,” Tori Somics recalled. “It kind of freaks you out a bit, but we were really fortunate that she needed a specific body part that someone could give her. There really wasn’t anything to think about.”

Somics said her mom’s donation of her kidney was “the most amazing gift” she had ever received.

The kidney donation enabled her to enjoy high school. She went on to Santa Barbara City College, graduated from UC Santa Barbara and then received a multiple-subject teaching credential and a Masters in Education from Antioch University Santa Barbara. In addition to her time at La Cumbre Junior High, she taught at La Patera Elementary School in Goleta.

In 2011, however, Somics contracted H1N1 swine flu and pneumonia. She was taking anti-rejection drugs because of her kidney disease, but that made her more susceptible to illness.

She was placed in a medically induced coma and, when she came out of it after a month, she had to learn how to walk, speak and eat again.

Tori Somics said her daughter has showed great strength while fighting her disease.

“When she was younger, it was a lot,” she said. “It is hard. It is a tough life. Especially when you are young.

“She went through some hard times. She would see all of her friends just living. It is hard when you watch your kid go through this.”

She believes her daughter will get through it.

“She’s tough,”​ Tori Somics said. “She is the best person ever and I love her.”

Somics said she’s going to try to get through her birthday in May before starting dialysis again. First she must have a mass removed from her donated kidney, a process that will lead to further deterioration of the organ.

She hopes people will hear about her story, educate themselves, and contact her about donating a kidney.

“I want to have a family,” she said. “I want to do something with education. I still have so much I want to do.”

Click here to make an online donation.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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