PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s a long way from Mendoza, Argentina, to a Zumba fitness class at Baierl Family YMCA in Franklin Park.
But Jacquie Uhler wasn’t dancing when she arrived in Pittsburgh in 1985.
“That’s Dr. Thomas Starzl, and that’s me when I was 15-years-old,” says Uhler.
She points out photographs in the yellowed pages of an Argentina newspaper. She was at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.
The girl from Mendoza was the first Argentinian to ever have a liver transplant. Seven years ago, she had another.
Fellow dancers in her Zumba class had no idea that the energetic 44-year-old had such a difficult past.
At least not until a flyer appeared on the bulletin board at the North Hills Y.
The message indicated that her kidneys have been damaged by immunosuppressant drugs, which stabilized her liver. Now, she needs a kidney donor.
But she already feels twice blessed.
“Two families have been gracious enough to donate to me, and I can’t let them down,” she says. “So every time I come to the Y, I do it for them, I do it for me, I do it for my family. Without exercising, I don’t think I could survive.”
She’s an inspiration to her husband.
“We’ve been blessed through the years,” Jason Uhler says. “Even though she’s been through so much, she’s still here.”
Kickboxing instructor Sue Mylet has become a close friend.
Discovering that her O+ blood is a match for Jacquie’s, she has begun the process of having herself tested to see if she can donate her kidney.
“I have the support of my family,” Sue says. “My husband and my two children. So as long as I’m healthy, and the tissue is a match, I’m going to go for it.”
Jacquie and Jason’s son, 8-year-old Mateo Uhler hopes it all works out.
“So she can have a normal life, and it can’t be a hard life,” he explains. “She needs a kidney immediately.”
Meanwhile, on the Zumba floor, a dedicated mother dances past the tears.
For more information: click here to see Jacquie Uhler’s flyer