Stories of Hope

Diane, living kidney donor

Diane’s living donation journey

Kidney donor Diane wanted to help her friend John when she learned he was in renal failure and needed a kidney. Nearly one foot shorter than John, it seemed unlikely that Diane could be his living donor. Undeterred, Diane underwent evaluation anyway and surprised medical professionals when she was found to be a suitable donor. The biggest surprise, however, was reserved for Diane — she was unprepared for the joy she would feel after being able to give John his life back through the gift of living donation.

A long-time Green Bay Packers fan, Diane was a college professor residing in San Diego when she first met John, a retired Packers star running back, at a local deli. The two immediately hit it off, and had been good friends for eight years when Diane learned that John was in kidney failure and needed a transplant. She volunteered to be his living donor, but was told she was too small. At 5’ 2”, surely no kidney of hers would do the job for 6’ 1” John. Tests, however, revealed otherwise: Diane actually had huge kidneys, and she was able to successfully donate a kidney to John (the smaller kidney at that). Following John’s return to health, yet another happy surprise was in store: two years after their living donation experience, Diane and John got married.

Life as a living donor

Diane resumed a healthy life after her kidney donation, and found she had a new mission. Together, she and John started the John Brockington Foundation in 2002 to increase organ, eye and tissue donation, and raise funds for people awaiting a transplant while on dialysis. In 2015, she also created WoMen Encouraging Living Donation (WELD — now Donate Life WELD) to give living donors and transplant professionals a platform to speak, share their stories and provide information in community focused settings. The Donate Life WELD program is open to all living donors and living donation transplantation professionals, and it offers opportunities for people to hear about living donation (perhaps for the first time), ask questions in a non-clinical setting and, hopefully, leave inspired.

It has been 20 years and counting since Diane’s kidney gave new life to John, and she is still in awe of what living donation makes possible.

“A few weeks of pain and inconvenience, followed by years of feeling I had stepped up and given my friend his life back. Donating a kidney — or a part of your liver — is the only way you can actually give someone their health,” said Diane. “How many times do you wish you could do that for someone you know or someone you love? Living donation lets you do that.”