Archive for May, 2010

I was just talking to fellow living kidney donor Ms. Cara about what might happen if the medical community did more to put the word out about living donors, and here’s this article about Loyola’s Pay-It-Forward kidney donation program.

Since the hospital launched the program in March, 21 people have offered to be living kidney donors to strangers, potentially making 126 transplants possible through donor chains of mismatched friends and relatives.

If you build it, they will come.

Jerome Moss and Randy Brown got to be good friends on the basketball court. Jerome had a terrible year, losing his job, his father and his kidney function. Randy couldn’t touch the first two issues, but decided to do something about the third and get tested to be a living kidney donor.

“I said, ‘Well I might as well go get tested,” Brown said. “I didn’t know if I was a match or not. They said, ‘Yea, you’re a good match.’ I said, ‘OK, Let’s do this. … It’s the right thing to do.”

Jerome’s wife, Mary Kay, was stunned.

“Both Randy and (his wife) Laurel are very selfless human beings,” Mary Kay said. “You don’t even know how to thank someone. He will always be a part of our life. The respect and admiration and love we have for him and his wife is pretty immense. He is giving Jerome a new start – a second life.”

And so on Wednesday, the coaches will have another matchup, for all the marbles. Congratulations, gentlemen.

There are about 80,000 people waiting for a kidney, and I wouldn’t presume to feature each of their stories, but Melissa Foster’s quest touches on something I think everyone in need of a kidney should do: Work everything you’ve got in this situation, girl.

Melissa started a Facebook group called “Mel Needs a Kidney” to try to find a donor. If you’re here because you saw Melissa’s page and have questions about what it’s like to donate a kidney, hop around a little and drop me a line.

Also of note and in the news is Matt Massie’s search for a Type O kidney through I really like that Matt’s loved ones are open to a paired donation (swap) scenario. Ups the chances and helps even more people. Good luck, Matt!

Molly saw Alex from time to time at a 12-step meeting, and when she heard from someone else that he needed a kidney, she volunteered to get tested. Writes columnist Geoff Calkins:

This story is about one person helping another person. Because — how did she put it? — she thought it was something she was supposed to do.

What a concept, eh? One person is supposed to help another person? For no reason other than their shared humanity?

No one jumped onto Molly’s bandwagon to offer support, either – not her parents, not the hospital, not Alex. Oh, and not her friends.

“I had one friend I’m close to hang up on me,” Molly said. “She said, ‘Molly, we talk all the time, and you’ve never even mentioned this person. I’m sorry, but that’s just weird.’  … [The hospital] interviewed me like the CIA,” Molly said. “They had a social worker interview me, a chaplain interview me, two doctors interview me and they all asked similar questions. ‘Are you doing this for money? Have you been forced?’ One of them insinuated that I might be doing it for inappropriate reasons. I thought, ‘Does she really think I’m trying to woo him by giving him my kidney?’ “

That would be sexy, yeah. But Molly persisted through, what is unfortunately pretty typical treatment when you’re donating to someone you barely know.

In the end, the transplant was a big success. Molly muscled through her recovery, and she and Alex have become good friends.

About the only thing that makes Molly uncomfortable now is the attention. She didn’t do it for the compliments. She did it because she thought she was supposed to, because she saw an opportunity to help.

“I just wanted to do something nice,” she said. “It’s not as complicated as people think.”

Lots to read in this kidney transplant tale. Thanks to Geoff Calkins for bringing it to light.

Teenager Bridgette Eichhorn has a brand new kidney, thanks to her uncle Paul Harrigan. Paul became a living kidney donor to Bridgette during a December kidney transplant.

“It’s not that big of a deal, the operation that is, at least I didn’t find it to be so” says Harrigan.

Harrigan now talks to others about the possibility of kidney donation.

Congratulations to the lovely and bold Lea Hanan of the Seattle area, who is so pleased to be able to help her father by giving him a kidney right around Father’s Day. Right after she finishes up schoolteaching for the year and throwing her son the best bar mitzvah party ever. Good grief, woman.

Surgery is currently set for June 28. Lea says:

“What an honor to lengthen the life of the man that enriches my life every single day!”

You go, honey.

I asked recent living kidney donor Cara Yesawich if she might share a little of her story on She generously offered to let me reprint a piece she wrote for her own site about her conversation with the recipient of her kidney. Rather than do that, I’m going to give you a little excerpt below and send you over to her blog for the rest, because there’s all kinds of other good stuff there.

So by way of background, Cara volunteered her kidney to whoever needed it, which, God bless. The recipient, who received the kidney as part of an 8-way swap, was Dr. Daniel Becker. They met briefly at a press conference held by the hospital but didn’t really get to talk until recently. Cara writes about her conversation with Dan:

He was diagnosed with diabetes at the very early age of 3 years old. Dan and his parents, Dick and Lynn Becker and his siblings knew that eventually he would most likely need a kidney transplant. August of 2009 Dan’s kidneys were shutting down and his fears were confirmed. … Dan and his family immediately started looking into finding a donor for him. His staff, family and friends were all supportive and many stepped forward to donate. …

Dan’s sister, Pam was determined and although she was not a direct match for Dan she wanted to be part of this kidney exchange pairing so it would be possible for her Brother to receive a kidney.

Hurray for Cara and Pam and everyone on the staff at Northwestern who made this historic transplant happen. Read the rest of Cara’s interview with her kidney recipient.

Giving of the body, tzedaka be’guf, says Rabbi Avraham Plotkin, is a blessing of the highest order. He was making this pronouncement about living kidney donation at a recent gathering held by Chabad Lubavitch of Greater Toronto.

Rabbi Ephraim Simon was also there and talked about being touched by the situation of a young girl who needed a kidney transplant. He was not able to donate to her but he did give one of his kidneys to a 51-year-old man.

“We take risks every day by being in cars or planes,” Rabbi Simon pointed out. “If the payoff for that is greater than the risk, how much more so would it be to donate a kidney and save a life? I also wanted to inspire my children by demonstrating what sacrifice and love for one’s fellow means and exemplifying the values I speak of to them.”

And then Rabbi Simon said what every living kidney donor says:

“It was the greatest experience of my life and I would do it again tomorrow if it were possible,” he said.

Congrats to FireDogLake blogger KarenM, who’s getting tested to be a living kidney donor to her son-in-law. She says:

The prospect of them continuing to do home dialysis six days a week for another decade or so is more than I can bear.

Good luck, and good for you! A kidney from a living donor will last twice as long as one from a cadaver, as you probably know, and you’re right; the inconvenience to you is minimal compared with the reduction in suffering to your daughter’s family.

Fourteen-year-old Jake McCarver has a new kidney, thanks to a living donor transplant from his mom, Tara.

“I’m doing awesome,” he said.  “It’s so special that [mom] could do that for me.  I’m just so grateful.”

“Just seeing him be his normal, regular self everyday is all I need to see,” Tara said. “I think most moms would give a heart if they had to. And I would have.”