Stories of Hope

Susan, living kidney donor

Susan’s living donation journey

Kidney donor Susan has always been motivated to help others and make positive changes in the world, both personally and professionally. What began with learning about living donation for a work project, quickly grew into something much more for Susan: she wanted to heal a life by becoming a living organ donor herself. She eventually got her chance to fulfill that wish when she donated a kidney to a woman whom she had never met. Today, the two are forever linked by the gift of living donation.

Susan, an advertising agency executive, was working on a writing assignment for a transplant hospital when she started considering donation. After speaking with a number of living organ donors and recipients, she was profoundly touched by their lifechanging stories. Susan was especially moved by the experiences of the non-directed donors she met and was compelled to learn more about the process of donating a kidney, without an intended recipient in mind. She had assumed that, in her 60s, she was probably too old to be a living donor. When Susan made the happy discovery that her age was not a barrier to living kidney donation, she wasted no time and scheduled an appointment to begin the assessment process the following week.

When the five-month-long evaluation journey was completed, and she was medically cleared to be a living donor, Susan felt confident that she was physically, mentally and emotionally in good shape to donate. During that time, she only spoke of her living donation hopes with her immediate family and her four running buddies. Buoyed by the lift they gave her spirits during the many steps of her assessment, Susan eventually decided to share her story with a larger audience through a blog as soon as she was approved to be a living donor.

“My goal was to encourage other people to consider donating as well,” Susan said. “The act of writing also helped solidify my desire to donate, and to resolve any lingering fears or concerns that I may have had. It also served to rally the troops. By the date of my surgery, I had a large group of friends, colleagues and my running community there supporting me.”

Just one month after being cleared for donation, Susan was matched with Julie, a woman in need of a kidney transplant. The surgery was a success for both donor and recipient. In a matter of days, Julie was on the road to better health, and Susan was literally on the road back home, walking all over her neighborhood. Several months after the operation, the two women decided to meet, and began forming what has since become a lasting bond.

Life as a living donor

Although Susan has resumed normal life after her kidney donation, she feels that her “normal” has been forever changed — in a good way. She encourages anyone who is thinking about living donation to explore their options, and to consider both the benefits and risks in order to make a thoughtful, informed decision. For Susan, that decision ended up being one of the most rewarding choices she has ever made.

“As strange as this sounds, it was a wonderful experience from start to finish,” Susan shared. “Donating an organ is truly lifechanging — for both the recipient and the donor.”