Dinges: Fox 7 anchor donating kidney to her mother

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Dinges: Fox 7 anchor donating kidney to her mother

2 new TV networks coming to Austin

Two more over-the-air TV channels are on their way to Central Texas.

Media General, owner of CW affiliate KNVA and MyNetworkTV affiliate KBVO, has signed deals to carry the Grit and Laff networks.

Grit, which targets a primarily male audience with shows such as “Walker, Texas Ranger” and Western flicks, will pop up soon on KNVA’s 54.2 digital subchannel.

The network is about a year old and has a companion female-focused network, Escape, that can be found on Univision-owned KAKW’s 62.4 digital subchannel.

Laff will air on KBVO’s 14.2 digital subchannel. The network, which launched seven months ago, primarily runs reruns of sitcoms such as “Empty Nest,” “Ellen,” “Spin City,” “Grace Under Fire,” “The Bernie Mac Show” and “The Drew Carey Show.”

A Media General representative said that Grit and Laff should make their debut here sometime in late December.

This holiday season, Rebecca Thomas is giving the gift of life.

Thomas, who co-anchors the 5 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts on Fox-owned KTBC-TV alongside Mike Warren, will donate one of her kidneys to her mother later this month.

“It was a huge decision but, really, it was a no-brainer for me,” Thomas said. “My mom is so deserving of this. I’m so happy I can give her a good quality of life.”

Thomas’ mother suffered from Lupus, an autoimmune disease, earlier in life that left her kidneys badly scarred, among other medical issues. Over time, her kidney function has steadily decreased, hovering today around 15 percent.

Earlier this year, Thomas said her mom was forced to begin dialysis treatments three hours a day, three times a week as her kidneys continued to degrade.

It was then that Thomas said she started seriously looking into getting her mom a kidney transplant. She was shocked to find the wait is typically between five and seven years.

That’s when Thomas, the oldest of three children, decided to get tested.

“I just knew I’d be a match,” she said. “And after they put me through a battery of tests, we found out I was.”

The surgery will take place this week in California. Thomas said she’ll be off the air for about two and a half weeks, followed by two weeks of working part time, only anchoring the 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. broadcasts. By the first of the year, she should be back to her regular schedule.

Thomas said her remaining kidney will grow to make up for the one set to go to her mother, meaning she’ll be able to live a normal life after healing from the surgery.

“I’m scared. There are nerves, for sure,” she said. “But I’ll be just fine.”

With barely two months on the job at Fox 7, Thomas, who arrived here after spending a decade in Phoenix, admits the timing isn’t ideal. But her family comes first, and she said her bosses are A-OK with that.

“Everyone at Fox has been awesome,” Thomas said. “They’ve been so supportive.”

That support extends on air, where Thomas is getting time during the station’s newscasts to report on her procedure in hopes of convincing more potential donors to get tested.

“We need to get more people registered,” she said. “Many people have died waiting. If you’re healthy, you only need one kidney. We all have a spare.”

For more details on organ donation, visit donatelifetexas.org.

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