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I was introduced to the idea of donating my kidney because a friend's sister, Dot, was in need of a transplant. However, thanks to the
generosity of a family that lost a loved one, Dot received a cadaver kidney. Knowing what she had been through and how difficult it is to find donors, I decided to go ahead with my kidney donation. Even though Dot didn't need my kidney, I knew that there were many people out there who did.
I cannot express how amazing it was to get the call informing us that a kidney was available to Dot and I am blessed that I was able to do the same for someone else.
In November of 2011, I was what they call an altruistic donor. I donated my kidney to a paired exchange program that matches up those in need of a kidney who have a living donor that is incompatible. I started a chain of transplants that literally went around the country. My kidney hopped on a plane to Los Angeles and was transplanted into a stranger named Rick; Rick had a living donor whose kidney went to the east coast...and someone off of the waiting list in Wisconsin received a kidney to complete the chain.
A lot of people don't understand my decision to donate and think I am nuts. The way I see it, if a few weeks of discomfort can help save/change someone's life, it's a no-brainer. Several people have told me that I inspired them to register as an organ donor and I have even talked to a couple of people considering being a living donor as I was. I read that people are more likely to be an organ donor if they know someone else who is - based on my experience it's true.
My name is Dot. I am one of the truly blessed to have received the gift of life, through organ donation.
I was 20 years old when first diagnosed with kidney disease. At the age of 25, I received my first
deceased donor kidney transplant. I lost it 2 years later due to kidney rejection. I received the second deceased donor transplant at the age of 27, it lasted 33 years before I went into renal failure. I had been on a waiting list for my third kidney, at Froedtert Hospital, who only received deceased donor organs from the Milwaukee area, and not nationwide, when, through my sister, I met Susan, who generously offered me one of her kidneys. I was so overwhelmed by her desire to donate. It was truly an unselfish act for someone to consider. Unfortunately, my antibody level was too high, making her kidney less than an ideal match, but with her help, she convinced me to pursue other hospitals that had nationwide organ procurement programs, and a national paired exchange program. UW Health, Madison was one. Through their program, I was able to receive a new kidney from New York.
I received my third deceased donor kidney transplant on 9-17-11. I had been on dialysis prior to the first two transplants, but thankfully, I received a kidney before that was necessary. Being dependent on a machine 3 times a week, is no way to live, and can have adverse effects on your body. As one year draws near with my new kidney, my quality of life has changed. I have more energy and stamina and have a new lease on life. I will forever be indebted to my organ donor’s family, for their generosity and compassion.
I owe my life, three times over, to organ donation. There are so many waiting for the gift of life. Thanks to destinationdonation.org, for bringing awareness to this much needed topic, hopefully more lives can be saved.