News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters woman battles kidney disease

Jamie Audrain of Sisters is facing a sudden, dangerous health crisis.

The mother of two was diagnosed with an aggressive form of kidney disease connected with diabetes and has seen her kidney function fall from 60 percent this summer to 28 percent currently.

Audrain has had “brittle” Type 1 diabetes for about 15 years. This type of diabetes is difficult to treat and control, and it can trigger secondary health problems.

“It’s very touchy,” she said. “Anything I can catch, I probably will.”

And anything she catches often progresses into pneumonia.

Troubling issues arose this summer, with protein showing up in her urine and new problems cropping up with blood pressure, high cholesterol and deteriorating eyesight. Then, over Thanksgiving, she got sick again. Again, she had pneumonia. This time, she experienced significant swelling in her legs.

“My mom took me to the emergency room,” she said.

That trip is a familiar one to Audrain, and she didn’t take it too hard — at first.

“I was taking goofy selfies with the new Christmas filters,” she said. “And the doctor came in and told me, ‘We’re going to AirLife you.’”

Her kidney function had deteriorated to a level that was beyond the Redmond St. Charles Hospital’s capacity to manage, so Audrain was airlifted to Portland for treatment.

She’s back home now, but facing a scary set of circumstances.

“When you get to 20 percent, that’s when you’re eligible to screen your family and friends for a kidney transplant. So that would literally be the next step,” she said. “When you get down to 15 percent, you go on dialysis.”

However, her circumstances present complications. Audrain told The Nugget that she asked her doctor whether her body would do the same thing to a donated kidney that it’s doing to her own kidneys now. The answer was that it would. That means that she will likely need a pancreas transplant along with a kidney, requiring a matched cadaver donor.

“So that’s what we’re looking at, and it could be three years from now, or it could be three months from now,” she said.

Audrain hopes to be able to return to work at The Porch as soon as she is able — she yearns for as much normalcy as she can get. But it is not at all clear when and if she’ll be able to do that. Her mother, Lynn, set up a personal emergency fundraiser on Facebook ( to help defray day-to-day living expenses and bills. The community response has been exceptional.

Audrain expressed how much she has cherished the community of Sisters.

“We moved here in ’94 from the valley and I got my first taste of small town community working at the photo lab.

I quickly learned how you could get to know your town by first name basis, sharing with them their lives through photos....

It seemed so special to me getting to know so many people.

Then when we applied for a Habitat house, so many caring people got to know my family and our story....

I’ve worked at the Porch restaurant since we opened 7 years ago, and many of our customers have become dear friends.

When my mom set up the fundraiser and news broke about my health, people from every stage of my life here rushed to help.

My mom had set a goal for the fund and posted it only to Facebook one evening.

The amount was raised in 12 hours! People continue to donate as they find out, some publicly, and some privately.

Some don’t have the means to donate, but have shared the post, or offered emotional support. It all has meant so much to me.”

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

Author photo

Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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