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Beth- Living Kidney Donor

At any time, there are over 100,000 people on the transplant waitlist hoping for a match. Two years ago, I was placed in a unique position to be a match for one of the people waiting. I always knew that I wanted to be an organ donor. At sixteen, when I received my first driver’s license, I remember the proud feeling of having organ donor on the bottom of my license. I knew that if I didn’t need my organs anymore, that they could help other families. Being a living organ donor never crossed my mind until I saw a neighbor’s plea on Facebook hoping to save the life of his son. As a mom of three young sons, the story resonated with me. I could not imagine watching one of my boys slowly die. I put myself in their shoes for just a moment and knew that I wanted to help. The feeling that I might be able to help their family stayed with me as I weighed the impact of this decision to my own family. There were a lot of reasons to say no, but ultimately none outweighed helping this family save their son.
A simple call to start the process led to a more detailed call on my medical history and then to extremely thorough testing at University of Louisville Hospital. My transplant coordinator patiently answered every question while a team of specialists combed through the results of every test. Living organ donor testing is sometimes called “the best physical of your life.” Every test and re-test was meant to ensure that my body would be just as healthy leaving surgery as it was going in.
When I was confirmed as a match after testing completed, I met and surprised my recipient’s parents. There are no words to adequately describe the pure joy of that moment for them or for me. Sharing with another parent that I already completed testing and could save their son’s life was incredibly emotional for all of us. A month or so later, Jackson and I were both in surgery to give one of my healthy kidneys to him. In the span of a morning, I saved his life and gave their entire family the most valuable gift on Earth – time. As a living donor, I get to hold that joy in my heart forever.
Our families just celebrated our two year kidney anniversary together. I still look back at my experience through testing, to surgery, and after and smile. When people find out that I’m a living organ donor, I often hear “I could never do that.” I think people would be surprised by their own strength to save a life and give another family this amazing gift! Everyone should sign up to be an organ donor on