MILWAUKEE, WI. (WCIA) — It’s not hard to hear Tori McCoy at practice these days. The Marquette junior is constantly encouraging her teammates. And it’s that positive energy and time on the court that’s keeping the 6-foot-4 forward optimistic during the biggest battle of her life.
“It’s been a pretty tough journey,” McCoy said. “These last eight months was a struggle. It’s tough for me and my family but we managed to get through it and we’re still getting through it.”
It all started in December when McCoy began throwing up after working out. Two weeks passed and the symptoms only got worse, so she went to the doctor.
“They drew some blood and that’s when I found out my kidneys were failing,” she said.
Diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis or FSGS, McCoy spent two weeks in the hospital. With only 10 percent kidney function, she immediately started dialysis. Her mom Kim was there every step of the way for two and a half months.
“We had a thousand questions like, ‘How did this happen? Where did it come from?'” Kim McCoy said. “And the only thing they could say is, ‘We don’t know.’ It could have been from birth or a virus could have attacked her kidneys.”
After weighing all options, Tori made the tough decision to join the live donor transplant list. The wait time is traditionally 3-5 years but she could get a new kidney in a matter of days if someone with B-negative blood is willing to donate. Her younger sister Maddie is a match but Tori told her that wasn’t an option.
“She is still in basketball so I’m not going to take something that she needs away from her,” Tori said. “Although I only need one to live and she only needs one, I wouldn’t do that to her.”
So the wait for a donor continues. Marquette shared Tori’s story on social media recently and the message quickly spread across the country with more than 1,200 retweets and 600 shares on Facebook.
“She’s an inspiration to everybody in our entire program,” Marquette head coach Carolyn Kieger said. “She’s fought this with courage, with strength and a positive attitude the entire time and she’s handling it I think the best that anybody possibly could.”
Tori’s doctors have cleared her to start doing some light workouts, she actually ran at the end of practice for the first time on Wednesday. She can’t play yet but it’s a big step in her road to recovery. The next chapter of that journey is just a few days away. The Golden Eagles are heading to Australia for their foreign trip and Tori is getting the chance to go with. They’ve pre-arranged some dialysis treatments overseas so she can be with her teammates.
“I’m just happy that they found facilities down there for me to get dialyzed so I feel pretty blessed about that and just being able to go to Australia,” she said.
“We’ve had our highs, we’ve had our lows,” Tori’s dad Tim McCoy said. “I think we’re finally getting to a point where we’re staying positive, staying on high.”
And it’s that outlook that’s fueling her dad Tim and the entire family as they wait for the perfect match.
“I will never give up,” Tori said. “I’m always looking forward to getting back to what I love doing and that’s basketball.”