#KIDNEY4JEN: You Could Save A Life
One organ donor can save up to eight lives. One of them could be my best friend.
Her name is Jennifer Hasty. She’s one of those people that everyone loves, with an irrepressible laugh that makes you laugh along with her even when you missed the joke, and a huge smile that rarely leaves her face.
She’s one of my dearest friends in the world, and she needs a kidney.
Jennifer’s kidneys first began to fail years ago. Why? Her doctors think it was due to an infection that she acquired as a teenager while doing missionary work in Haiti. Yep, that’s Jen. While most of us were mooning over posters of Duran Duran tacked to the walls of our comfortable middle class homes, she was volunteering in poverty-stricken communities.
Two decades ago, Jennifer received her first kidney transplant from a living donor–her own amazing husband, Clint, who turned out to be a perfect match in every sense. I reckon he could leave the toilet seat up for the rest of his life, as Jen could never win any argument against the “I gave you my KIDNEY” card. (Fortunately for my friend, Clint is not that kind of guy.)
But no matter how much you coddle donated organs–and Jennifer has treated hers with all the care you’d afford a vintage Aston Martin–organ transplants don’t last forever. Jen is now officially in kidney failure again.
Following a battery of tests as intensive as those an astronaut might undergo before being sent to the moon, Jennifer has been approved for a second kidney transplant. It’s a strange process whereby you have to prove you’re in dire need of an organ, but in excellent shape in every other way. Doctors want to be sure each transplant is going to a good home, to someone who will take terrific care of it, and of themselves.
The problem? The waiting list for a kidney is four to five years–and Jennifer needs one now.
Her life depends on it, and in many ways, so do the lives of those people who love her. She’s a terrific mother, a wife whose husband adores her, and an only child. She’s also one of the kindest, most generous women you’d ever hope to meet.
22 people die every day waiting for transplants in the US alone because of the shortage of donated organs, according to Organdonor.gov. That might not seem like a huge number, but even one death is too many when you consider how easy it would be to save that life if there were more donors.
Here’s how to help.
1. You can be a living donor. This is Jennifer’s best bet!
PLEASE NOTE: Leanne Whitehead, the Living Donor Transplant Coordinator at Piedmont Hospital, is on vacation through February 24, 2016, but Megan Parker at Piedmont is handling all queries relating to match testing for potential kidney donors while Leanne is away. You can reach Megan at 404-605-2950.
Also, if you are considering becoming a living donor for Jennifer Hasty, her health insurance would pay for the cost of the test to see if you’re a match, as well as for the transplant operation.
For more information on living donations: https://www.kidney.org/transplantation/livingdonors/biggive
To learn more about how it feels to save a life, read Michael Bobich’s story about how he became a living kidney donor here.
2. Join the organ donor registry to donate your organs after you shuffle off this mortal coil.
IN THE UK: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk
Be sure to let others know of your wishes, too. In addition to joining the organ donor registry, Organdonor.gov suggests that you:
– Designate your decision on your driver’s license
– Tell your family about your donation decision
– Tell your physician, faith leader, and friends
– Include your wish to donate in your advance directives, will, and living will
Maybe you won’t be the one to save Jennifer, but without a doubt, you will save someone.
Please share this information with others. I’ve created the hashtag #KIDNEY4JEN and a Facebook page to help spread the word.
The best gift you could ever give anyone is the gift of life, and it won’t cost you a cent. Through your efforts, I hope we will not only find an organ donor for Jennifer, but for thousands of others, as well. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.