RICHMOND, Va. -- Tonisha Nix spent most of her childhood within the walls of VCU Children's Hospital on Brook Road battling a rare kidney disease called atypical-HUS.
No longer a child, the now 26-year-old still spends her days on the same floor of that hospital, helping others as a nurse.
Nix said she had no doubt that she wanted to become a nurse at VCU because of the relationships she created with her nurses there as a child.
"I always said when I become a nurse, I will give them what my nurses gave me," Nix explained. "And that was like having a home away from home, compassion and caring."
You might not know it from her bright smile, but Nix has had to overcome a lot because of her condition. After a kidney transplant failed back in 2006, she’s spent the last 17 years on dialysis.
"I have missed days, years from school, had to overcome a lot of self-esteem issues with scars, and things of that nature," she noted.
Despite those challenges, Nix was able to graduate middle, high school and college on time.
"I felt like I've added a lot that people said I couldn't do," said Nix. "I've had multiple jobs. I'm still a regular person, I just need a kidney."
The young caregiver wants another shot at life, and to be healthy enough to become a travel nurse.
"I could be a better person with that kidney," she explained. "Because I won't be tied down to a machine the rest of my life, and I can travel and help more people outside RVA."
Nix said she's had three calls for people hoping to be able to give her a kidney, and they weren’t successful.
If she was able to find a donor now, she said she would be forever grateful.
"I will literally cry," she noted. "I'm on the verge of tears right now. If this video was a match, and it actually went through, I would just be ecstatic, like, I will not know how to feel because I've been living my life all these years as a dialysis patient.”
Nix's mom Sonora Kinchen said several doctors told her that her daughter wouldn't make it.
"She was meant to be here," said Kinchen. "She is here for a reason. Because she’s still here. And she's still succeeding."
If you’re interested in finding out if you could be a match for Nix, you can contact the VCU Health Hume-Lee Transplant Center and say you would like to get tested to be a kidney donor for Tonisha Nix.
Even if you can’t, Nix just asks that you raise awareness about kidney donation.
"Just raise awareness, especially for African Americans," Nix explained. "There are a lot of African Americans in the dialysis center, needing a kidney and no one matches them. Because we are hard to match. And people don't understand that."
Nix remains hopeful she will find a donor, but in the meantime, she plans to continue helping sick children.