It's a problem that affects thousands of people in our state -- according to the Alaska Kidney Patients Association, the number of Alaskans needing a kidney transplant has more than doubled in the last decade.

But getting one can carry a lot of up-front, out of pocket expenses, even if you have insurance. That's been the struggle for one family, right here in Anchorage.

You wouldn't know it from the cartoon characters painted on their mailbox outside, but the Broyle family has a serious problem.

A year ago, Teresa Bryole's husband, Stan, was diagnosed with Stage Four renal failure -- meaning he now needs a new kidney. That's when the bills started piling up. 

From colonoscopies to heart procedures and even dental work, a transplant team in Utah wants to make sure Stan is as healthy as possible before the operation. Each appointment, however, costs hundreds of dollars in airfare alone.

"We just live in a location that is distant to what really, medically, people need," Teresa said. "He's definitely in kidney failure, so we don't have a choice."

Even with insurance, the family faces tens of thousands in up-front expenses. Because of the illness, Stan retired early from work as a fishing guide.

For her part, Teresa says she thought she'd done everything right. She has a job with the City, good insurance, and a flexible savings account specifically for medical expenses.

"But flexible spending has a cap. So once you hit that cap, that money's not available anymore, so then you're out of pocket again," Teresa said. 

While worried about finances, the family tries to keep themselves, and Stan, from fearing the worst.

"Keeping up morale, and keeping up hope that this is going to work, this is going to save you," said his daughter Jocilen. 

Jocilen and Teresa are now turning to friends and family on social media for help.

"We want to take care of people, we don't want to be the ones that have to be asking for the help. Or putting our story out there that this is overwhelming and expensive," Teresa said. 

Despite the setback, the Broyles say they're savoring precious time together, remembering moments of joy, and trying to keep smiling.

The family has created a Go Fund Me account to help raise money for Stan's medical expenses. To learn more, click here.

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