Archive for June, 2010

Blood drive coordinator Lori Gaitten was asked to put out flyers for Darby Bolyard, who needed a kidney transplant, at a blood drive she was coordinating. Hmm, thought Lori.

Lori immediately decided to try to donate a kidney to the 7-year-old herself.

“It was an immediate decision. I couldn’t imagine being in a more awful situation than knowing that your child needed help and that you couldn’t and had to just hope that someone would help,” Gaitten said. “I was the first one to fill out the paperwork and knew before anybody else, before the blood drive even had happened. I found out on New Year’s Eve 2008 and when I got that call, I cried. They were tears of happiness. I knew from the moment that I said I’d be tested that I’d be the one. It was supposed to be. I felt all along that I’d be the one.”

Darby chokes me up, too. At her tender age, she felt her mortality and began leaving handprints all over the walls at home so that no one could forget her.

After the surgery, her mom is hoping those handprints will scrub off, because Darby will be around for a long, long time.

Lots of people made a recent 14-kidney transplant swap come together. First, the family of Jennifer Whitford, who decided to donate her kidneys when she was tragically killed.

One of those kidneys went to Ralph Wolfe’s wife, Brenda, taking Ralph off the hook for donating in a planned swap. But just as on a recent episode of transplant drama “Three Rivers,” Ralph said, “Nope. People are counting on me. I’m donating anyway.”

That decision facilitated 13 more transplants.

“Who was I to say a precious daughter died and gave my wife life, and I’m going to hold on to this kidney just in case?” he said just after meeting Gary Johnson, who now has his kidney.

Said Gary:

“Tomorrow, no dialysis. I love Ralph.”

I love Ralph, too. Congratulations to everyone involved in these kidney transplants.

“Will she want a gay kidney?” Jen Denis wondered about the potential kidney transplant recipient she met on Turns out the rest of Rene Miranda was already gay, so the kidney was indeed a perfect match.

Says Rene:

“I was afraid she would not want to give her kidney to a lesbian, and she thought I would not want her lesbian kidney! Needless to say we bonded after that great exchange. Jen Denis is my earth angel!”

How cute is Jen’s dad, Jeff?

“I tell people about what my daughter is doing and they tell me I should be very proud. . . . She is a wonderful person and I guess that I am getting a new daughter since Rene will have some of my DNA. Welcome to the family, Rene.”

Trust me, those lesbian kidneys are sturdy; mine has been doing its thing for a lovely Brooklyn man for just under a year. Ladies, if your blogs are ongoing, please send me links!

Lea Hanan in the Seattle area was only too happy to be tested to donate a kidney to her dad, Albert Behar. And if you watch this video, you’ll see that they are both just the cutest.

Lea, who had to drop some serious weight for the surgery, says she’s honored to give back to the man who has given so much to her and her children.

“I look at this man and what he’s given to me, and I really am looking forward to the day to come with excitement. Let’s get this show on the road!” says Hanan enthusiastically.

Lea and Albert’s kidney transplant is June 28. All happiness to them both.

Also thinking “kidney transplant” this Father’s day are:

“You know it’s just a little bit of pain to save someone’s life and I feel like everyone should be more willing to give,” said Tamara Greene.

Tamara, 23, decided a while back that she wanted to donate a kidney to someone, anyone, in need. She signed up with Tulane’s transplant program and ended up being the key to creating a three-kidney transplant chain.

“My uncle has renal failure and because he was on the list for so long he can’t have a transplant now, because he needs a heart, a pancreas, and two kidneys. So just knowing that if there are more people that were willing to give, he could have been saved. All the trouble and all the hurt, it’s just something that I feel like we can do,” said Greene.

Renee Credeur Bergeron received Tamara’s kidney.

“Until sickness really affects your family, you really don’t understand the impact that it has on your life. It completely changes you life and we need donors. And I have two young kids and I didn’t want to go on dialysis. So I’m very blessed, very blessed,” said Bergeron, voice cracking with tears in her eyes.

Good for you, Tamara! Congrats to all.

More and more hospitals are getting involved in paired kidney donations. (I donate to your friend; you donate to mine.) Jeananne Thomas’ local transplant center is still in the planning stages, but she donated a kidney to a stranger across the country so that her brother, Murray could get a kidney transplant.

Interesting article. Apparently there are a half-dozen separate paired donation registries that hospitals can affiliate with, possibly by region. (Wouldn’t you fly anywhere to save a loved one?)

Some matching networks, such as the one Rochester joined, prefer that the donors travel to the recipient’s city for surgery. Others, such as the National Kidney Registry, send the kidneys, unaccompanied, on ice in specially labeled white cardboard boxes on commercial flights. “They basically go in with the luggage,” Veale said of the precious cargo.

Yeah, I don’t even trust the airlines to deliver my actual luggage every time. Jeananne decided to make the flight; I would have, too. Congrats to the Thomases and everyone else involved in their five-kidney chain!

Wasn’t I just saying that you have to work the Internet a little if you need a kidney transplant? Eli Powell found a living kidney donor using Facebook. One of his old friends from waaaaayyy back in the day saw that he needed a kidney transplant on Eli’s Facebook page and stepped up.

Paul Jones went to middle school with Eli.

“Figured he’s young, has a family, and I’d want someone to do that for me if I was in his position,” Paul said. “If we can both be healthy and survive, live long happy lives, I don’t see how I couldn’t do it.”

Needless to say, Eli is appreciative.

“It’s awesome. It’s nice to know people out there who are willing to help like that,” Eli said. “It’s gonna be a life changing experience for both of us, he literally is going to be part of me for the rest of my life.”

I am a strong believer that if you need a kidney transplant, particularly if your blood is Type O, you need to use all the tools available to you to find a living donor. Hit Facebook and Craigslist and and all that happy stuff!

Diane White worked it out in Tuscon, and with the help of Craigslist, she found a living kidney donor. She got the idea from a friend she met at dialysis, Tanya Gutierrez.

“People sell all kinds of things on Craigslist. A lot of people read it,” Gutierrez said. “And I didn’t want to just sit around and wait. I wanted to do something for myself.”

Tanya placed an ad saying she needed a kidney transplant and found a donor. And Diane didn’t really want to ask for help, but then … she kind of needed help.

Enter Jessica Cameron, who drove to Tucson, got tested and donated a kidney. Post-transplant, Jessica says twaren’t nothin’.

“They told me to avoid contact sports and I haven’t wanted to do that in the last five years. I don’t see myself developing an urge, either,” Cameron joked. “The big pain is over now, so I’m going on with my life as normal.”

Diane is still stunned by Jessica’s generosity.

“To be so unselfish, it just blows me away,” White said of Cameron. “She has given me a chance to live out the rest of my life.”

Stacey Simms and her dad are flying to Alberta from their home in Saskatchewan so that her dad can be a living kidney donor to her. Kidney transplants in Saskatchewan have been suspended by the government over a contract dispute with doctors. Nice.

Stacey, ever creative, got in front of the legislature to make her plea to reinstate kidney transplants, and had dialysis on the spot so they could see what the waiting was like. I know dialysis sure made an impression on me. Good thinking, girl, and good luck with that transplant.