I've barely seen this story around, so I thought I would share it with you. It's always nice to hear some good news for a change. With all of the negative stuff that is going on out there it's important to remember that there is lots of good going on as well. I just wish the media would share it with us more often. But, I digress....
(The picture to the right is of a plush kidney:) this and other plush guts can be purchased here.)
Now for the story.
A Kansas man receives a new kidney, and a love blooms in the process.
How awesome is this:
It's a big decision, and a sacrifice more people are making. The number of people willing to donate a kidney has spiked in the last five years. New procedures can make the donation less invasive and shorten the healing time. One Kansas man met his donor in one of the most unlikely of places.
It was a busy day at the pharmacy in one McPherson grocery store. The pharmacy is short-staffed, and its manager, Julie Wallace, was preparing to be gone for eight weeks.
That's because just 18 hours later, Wallace donated one of her kidneys to a customer.
"He had been in a lot with a lot of medications and a lot of problems," said Wallace.
And somewhere in between filling prescriptions, Wallace fell in love.
"I think she kind of felt sorry for me a little bit," said kidney transplant patient Justin Lister. He's the man on the other side of the pharmacy counter. He received Wallace's kidney.
"She told me if ever needed something to give her a call," he said.
Lister suffers from IGA Nephropathy, a disease that leads to kidney failure. Four times a day, every day for more than a year, he underwent dialysis.
"You can't go out and hang out with your friends like you used to because you're stuck at home. Then you're driving to the hospital by yourself. It's real crummy," Lister said.
Lister's name was far down on the donor list because he's only been on it for a year, and others with greater need get a kidney first.
"From the moment I met him that I knew if there was something I could do to make his life better, I would do it," said Wallace.
But the odds of her qualifying to donate were slim, and the chances her tissue matching Lister's were even smaller. Blood types must be compatible, then cross-matching checks if the recipient's antibodies will attack the donor's cells.
"I said to the transplant team, 'you know, I wish I could donate. I would really like to but we're not the right blood type.' Well, they typed us anyway and come to find out we are the right type," she said.
"'We're perfect for each other,' she would say, 'I bet our kidneys are perfect,'" Lister said.
Packing for the hospital, Lister readied a barrage of medication he'll continue after the transplant.
"I'm used to the hospitals, but I'm nervous about how big of an operation it is," he said.
Still, he says he'd rather be tied to these pill bottles than a dialysis machine.
The operation took about six hours. For surgeons, Wallace's part was easy. It is Lister who concerned surgeons. Despite rigorous testing and medication, his body could have still rejected the organ.
Dr. Charles Shield performed the transplant, and checked on the healthy couple.
"Any live donor, even if it's a total mismatch, is better than the best deceased donor," said Dr. Shield.
Kidneys from a living donor are always healthier. They must be free of conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
"Fifty plus percent of the people that start the live donor workup get turned down because we find something that's wrong," Shields said.
Patients who receive a kidney from living donors have about an 80 percent survival rate after five years. Compare that to 67 percent of those who receive a kidney from a deceased donor.
So thanks to Wallace, the odds are good for Lister.
"It doesn't seem like it's real because I've been looking forward to this day for the past year," said Lister.
A day that would not have happened, if Wallace hadn't gone beyond the pharmacy counter to do more than just fill a prescription.
"No question, in my mind, that I would do it again," said Wallace.
There is no compensation for donating a kidney, but the recipient's insurance covers medical expenses for donating. Recovery time for donors takes between two and six weeks.