Archive for the 'Family' Category

Nathalie Ouellette and Marc Lacroix had been tellers at the same bank for years. Each was married, and the woman in each couple needed a kidney transplant. Husbands’ kidneys didn’t match their own wives’, but then Marc and Nathalie got to talking. What if Nathalie’s husband was a kidney transplant match for Marc’s wife and vice versa? And they turned out to be right.

“It’s rather unique that they aren’t related and figured it out for themselves,” said Michel Paquet, Ms. Laflamme’s kidney specialist and the Quebec representative on the advisory committee of the national kidney-transplant registry. “Statistically speaking, the odds of it working are highly improbable. But it worked for them. If you set out to find your own donor like that, it would never work.”

Three donors and three recipients comprised the kidney transplant donor chain that included Ronnie and Ruth White. Ronnie donated one of his kidneys to a stranger so that Ruth could have a kidney transplant from another stranger. Ronnie remains amazed.

“We still can’t get our heads around the fact this was possible.”

They had hassles with getting through all the tests, as is common, but in the end, the transplants took place in early 2010.

“As far as I know we were the first people in Northern Ireland to take part in this procedure, and some of the first in the UK. It’s absolutely incredible. I went into theatre at 9am and Ruth got her new kidney at about 3pm the very same day.”

Ronnie never looked back when he didn’t match Ruth, once he heard about the kidney transplant donor chain option.

“As soon as I heard that I thought that if I could help I wanted to go ahead. I may not have known the person who was going to get my kidney, but ultimately Ruth would benefit and as far as I was concerned I had two kidneys and only needed one of them, so it was a pretty straightforward decision. …

“I was sore for a couple of weeks but I helped to save lives and it has made such a difference to Ruth. We’re very pleased with how it all went.”

After Tucson gun victim Christina Taylor-Green’s parents decided to donate her organs, it drew attention to the topic of kidney donation.

The Green Valley News profiled two kidney transplants. The first was a husband-wife kidney donation between Shelly and Danny Freeman. When Danny needed a kidney transplant after exposure to toxic chemicals, Shelly volunteered. Three years later, she’d do it all again.

“I feel great with just one kidney, too,” Shelly said. “I was tired following the initial surgery, but now it’s just back to normal.”

Doctor’s say Danny’s new kidney is functioning very well.

The second kidney transplant featured in the article went to Bobb Vann, an artist whose work hangs in the Pentagon and other prominent locations.

When it became known that Bobb needed a kidney transplant, 20 people offered to be tested. The best match was Roberta “Birdie” Stabel, who donated her kidney to Bobb in 2004.

“I really wish people would know what a great gift it is to donate an organ,” Vann said. “I still hear about people, some right here in the area, that were on dialysis for years and are still waiting for a kidney donation.”

Kidney donation is a great gift to everyone involved. The surgery to the donor is laparoscopic. Donors are in the hospital a couple of days at most, back to work in two weeks. But that’s just the physical.

As a donor, you will always have the memory of being involved in a profound and joyful human experience. Oh, and someone’s life gets saved, too.

Consider being a living kidney donor.

Kim Hill, a former singer with Black Eyed Peas, recently donated one of her kidneys to her older brother Brian.

Her living kidney donor journey began with testing to donate to her father, but he became too ill for the surgery. Then Brian needed her help and she knew it was meant to be.

“I realized that it was a spiritual lesson for me. I was never meant to do the surgery for my father. I was only meant to offer him my kidney,” she says.

Brian had been on dialysis, keeping his busy life as a pastor going as best he could. He’d turned down offers from both of his sisters, Kim and Teretha, to donate a kidney, but after their father passed away, it was time.

“It’s difficult to ask someone for something that God gave them and is not supposed to come back out,” Brian explains. “So, yes, it took a little time to just settle with it.”

Kim was delighted that he agreed, and their kidney transplant surgery was this week.

“All my life I’ve wanted to do this for my brother,” Kim says. Then she became a mom and understood the depth of love a mother has for her child. “I’m doing this not just because he’s my brother, but because he’s my mother’s son.”

Sisters Sue Deorocki and Cathy Toomey have each had the opportunity to be living kidney donors. Cathy’s son Sean needed a kidney transplant when he was 21, and she stepped up. Years later, Sue, having seen everything Sean went through, donated a kidney to family friend Woody Cammett.

“I knew I wanted to help someone like that. It was a great experience and I couldn’t believe how good it felt to be able to do it,” Deorocki said. “Dialysis was awful. It’s no way to live. …

“I had seen what Cathy and Sean went through. I had just watched my best friend lose her son, who I was like a second mother to,” said Deorocki, referring to Holly Shay, whose son, Jordan, was killed in Iraq in 2009. “This was something I could do to help someone. …

She got tested to be a living kidney donor for Woody, but by then had decided she would donate a kidney to someone, even if she wasn’t a match for her friend.

“It was like therapy for me. I had people who thought I was crazy, but it’s not every day you get a chance to save someone’s life,” she said.

The kidney transplant surgery? No big woop, Sue says.

“People always ask if there are lasting effects, and beyond the tiny scars, there are none,” Deorocki said. “If anything, I’m surprised at how easy the whole process was.”

The kidney transplant was a big deal for Woody, though.

“The minute I was awake after surgery, I knew there was a difference,” he said. “You don’t realize how sick you are until you begin to feel better. I never really knew why I was so tired all the time, so cold. Now I have so much more energy.”

“Because of what Sue did, we can talk about the future again, and that’s something we couldn’t do for a long time,” Cammett’s wife, Marcia, said. “How can you ever thank someone for that? How do you say thank-you to someone who saved your life?”

When Yehudis Baron’s kidneys began to fail from lupus, her mom, Henya Meyer, knew what to do. She was tested to be a living kidney donor.

“The doctors kept asking you me: ‘You want to give a kidney?’ For me it was black-and-white facts. I had to do this for her. They seemed to be happy with that.”

Three weeks post-kidney transplant, Yehudis is looking forward to the future.

“I’m looking forward to being much more hands-on with my children. While I was very unwell over the past year they always knew I was available, but I was unable to run the house as much or work. But now my kids run up the stairs after school screaming ‘Mummy’. They are so pleased to have me home.”

Cari Mutnick had the opportunity to save her dad, Joel’s, life by donating one of her kidneys. Now she’s making a strong statement about her own health. Cari has signed up for the Disney Half-Marathon.

“I had done a 5K [five kilometers, or 3.1 miles] before the surgery, but I had walked the whole way,” said Cari, 28. “I played sports before, intramurals in college, but was not overly active. … I just realized that even though everything went well [with the transplant], you never know what life was going to throw at you,” Cari said of how the surgery changed her. “I woke up with a new outlook.”

Donating a kidney changed Cari quite a lot.

“I learned from the surgery that I am stronger than I thought I was,” she said. “I can handle more than I thought I could. This is just one goal of mine. I don’t think I will become a marathoner. It will open doors for other things. Who knows what I can accomplish?”

Keep going, Cari!

Some people take that “in sickness and in health” thing very seriously. Enter Rodney Ford, whose beloved wife, Syrita, needed a kidney transplant. He offered to be tested as a living kidney donor, but she thought he was just being nice. Then he matched.

“It was like winning the lottery,” he said. “Here it was, I wanted to give my wife a kidney and, oh my gosh, this was really going to happen.”

The kidney transplant surgery was a success, though they’ve had some rejection scares since. Today, life is good.

“I really cannot stay mad at him long, ever, anymore,” Syrita said. “It’s just because I have the gift of life now. How can you be mad at the person who has given you life?”

“For me it seems our marriage has a lot more peace,” he said. “Really, ever since hearing that she was going to outlive her kidneys, I don’t get as angry over things.”

Congrats on your new lives, Ford family!

Larry Jackson was surprised to learn that his 24-year-old grandson Ryan Foor had been tested to donate a kidney to him. Ryan, an Iraq War veteran, was thrilled that they matched.

“I just thought I’d give it a try and I ended up being a match,” Foor said. “It made me feel excited.”

Larry’s doctor, David Goldfarb, had high praise for Ryan’s decision to be a living kidney donor and enable Larry’s transplant.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” Goldfarb said of organ donation. “He (Foor) is a motived young man, and the donors are the star of the show. My hat’s off to them.”

Although my recent Facebook post pointing to a couple of eBay auctions has not borne fruit, Lynn Carnahan had a different outcome. His wife posted a note on her Facebook page saying that Lynn was being listed for a kidney transplant, and cousin Caleb thought, “Hmm.”

“As soon as I read it, I knew what I should do,” said Caleb. “I was up half the night contemplating the decision.”

He didn’t know Lynn, really.

“But, I knew him well enough to know he is a really good guy and he didn’t deserve to be sick from this disease. I thought, ‘How can I set back and not help a family member?’”

Poor Caleb ended up having “open surgery,” rather than a more usual laparoscopic technique. (It depends on your doctor and the placement of your kidney and blood vessels.) Nonetheless, everyone is recovering nicely.