ALBANY, GA (WALB) - An Albany woman uses her physical challenges to inspire others who face similar situations. Debbie McDonald is not only a volunteer, she's a voice and advocate for people with disabilities. And she's one of our people who make a difference.
McDonald lives with several disabilities, but she'll tell you, she just does things differently from most people. It all began when she was diagnosed with Type I diabetes when she was 10.
"Over the years it got worse," said McDonald. "I had more complications and the first thing was my vision. I got diabetic Retinopathy. And my kidney's failed so I was on dialysis for seven and a half years. Then I had an injury to my foot, so I had to have an amputation below the knee."
The Albany native is completely blind in her left eye and legally blind in her right eye. She's also a kidney and pancreas organ transplant recipient and has four cardiac stents. "I wanted to take all these things that has happened to me and try to do something good with it to help other people."
In 2006 she founded Limb Support, a non-profit organization for amputees and people with other physical disabilities. "After I had my amputation there were no support groups in Albany," said McDonald. "And so I decided, well I'm just going to start one myself. And I started that and it grew. I have a lot of people that come to the meetings and we share our experiences."
McDonald has been an amputee for 13 years, but she doesn't let that slow her down. And she wants other amputees to know they don't have to let their challenges hold them back.
"We give each other support on how to deal with the disabilities," said McDonald. "We don't use the word handicap. We're trying to get that to the community that we are not handicap. We have physical challenges. I'm just able to do things differently than other people. I've done a lot of sports, wheelchair tennis and rugby, ridden horses, bowling, just about anything, but drive. I can't do that due to my vision."
McDonald is an active volunteer and is also part of the National Federation of the Blind, the Mended Hearts Albany chapter and many other organizations. Her work isn't just felt in Albany. She uses social media to reach others all over the country and to raise awareness.
"It just makes me feel good to help other people and encourage them and know that life goes on and you can be happy," said McDonald. "Don't get down about your disabilities or your health issues. Just take that and see what you can do for other people."
McDonald says she got a second chance at life because of her transplants and she urges others to consider becoming a donor.
For more information about Debbie McDonald's organization Limb Support, Inc., click HERE.