FAIRBURY - Valentine's Day is not the only significant holiday on Feb. 14.

It's also National Living Organ Donation Day - an observance dedicated to spreading awareness and education about organ, eye and tissue donation.

Karie Buchli, 52, was born and raised in Fairbury. She's been employed at Starr-Buckow Insurance for 15 years, and currently lives on a farm near Alexandria with her husband, Matt.

She's lived a mostly comfortable life, but in August 2016, a routine blood test led to a kidney biopsy, which led to an FSGS (Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis) diagnosis. In short, a permanent scarring of the kidneys due to protein being dumped in urine.

Ultimately, Buchli was diagnosed at Stage 4 chronic kidney disease. Her kidney function has dropped from 26% to 16%. It has to drop down to 20% for one to become eligible for a transplant. She also had to pass a series of tests to see if she was healthy enough.

"It's a constant daily worry," Buchli said. "I never know if my kidneys are going to fail or hang in there."

Buchli is not yet on dialysis, and she hopes it remains that way.

"One can stay on dialysis for 40 years," she said, "but it's very hard on your body."

Instead, Buchli wants to send a message of awareness and encouragement for anyone who listens to become a living organ donor.

"If people can't donate to me, they can donate to a stranger, a family member or a friend," she said. "You never know who's going to be a match for you."

Buchli got listed on the United Network for Organ Sharing Patient Waiting List for a kidney transplant. A list where 5,000 people are cut annually, because they are not healthy enough to receive a transplant. An estimated 13 people die every day while waiting for a kidney transplant.

In Nebraska, the wait time is typically 1-2 years.

"If there's a kidney that matches yours, you get moved up," she explained. "They tell you to keep your phone on you at all times."

Despite the bleak numbers, Buchli remains optimistic and is thankful for her family, friends and co-workers who have supported her during a difficult time.

"My co-workers have been amazing," she said. "I also am a fitness instructor at the (Burkley) Fitness Center, and I just have a really good support system between my family and my friends and my community."

Buchli offered two websites where people can sign up online to become living organ donors. One through UNMC:

And another at the national level:

"It's just a simple blood test," she said, "to get started to be tested as a living organ donor."

You can follow Tommy on Twitter @Tommy_NCN.