Jude Clarke and the ExoSym brace (left photo) that has enabled her to walk again pain-free. (Contributed)

Okanagan woman walking for awareness

Jude Clarke aims to spread awareness about Lupus and Osteoarthritis and the success she has seen ExoSym™ brace .

At the age of 21, Jude Clarke was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease, which among many manifestations, causes inflammation throughout the body.

Because this condition is chronic and incurable, she spent the next 40 years trying to manage the pain.

This eventually led the Vernon woman to write a book about the disease to help others who had suffered similar conditions.

Titled The Language of Water, her book was published in 1994, detailing her experience living with lupus.

In 2013, after having lived for 35 years with lupus, Clarke was told she needed a kidney transplant.

Several loved ones volunteered to get tested to see if they were a match but ultimately, it was her brother Joe who fit the bill. She received her new kidney in 2015.

Related: Organ donors desperately needed

“The kidney he kept, and the one he donated to me are both working perfectly. A reminder here folks: we each only need one!,” she wrote.

One of the many side effects of lupus is the avascular necrosis of the bone as Clarke experienced inflammation on her ankle.

“Since the transplant, my ankle pain had become increasingly more painful and pain had developed mid-foot through the other foot. My range of motion had become more limited,” she said.

After seeking solutions to aid the pain, she eventually came across ExoSym in the fall of 2018.

ExoSym is a device that is described as a cross between an orthotic and a prosthetic, a limb salvage device to prevent amputation.

“This was my life. I needed help,” she said.

After getting approved, she received the device earlier this year. Now, she aims to raise awareness about Lupus and osteoarthritis and the success of the ExoSym brace allowing her to walk again.

“My future goal is to participate in the annual BC/Yukon Kidney Disease Walk fundraiser, an event I walked once, and since have biked as it has been too painful to be on my feet. I can’t wait.”

While her focus is on sharing her story and helping spread awareness, others are hoping to raise money to help Clarke with medical expenses.

“Jude’s goal is to raise awareness about Lupus and Osteoarthritis and the ExoSym brace, but our goal is to raise funds for Jude! It’s very simple,” wrote Jude GoFundMe organizer Natalie Appleton.

The GoFundMe fundraiser, titled “Help Jude Walk Into The Woods,” was launched about a month ago and has so far raised more than $14,000 with a goal of $20,000.

To read more about Clarke’s story, or to donate to the fundraiser, visit the page at https://www.gofundme.com/help-jude-walk.

Related: Kidney Walk makes strides

Related: Army of support behind Morning Star saleswoman battling cancer

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