The Truth About Living Donations
Education & Research One father’s selfless act saved more than a daughter’s life; it also saved the life of a stranger.
Each day, an average of 79 people receive an organ transplant, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Thanks to selfless acts of others, Christine fell into that group—going on to get an organ donation and lead a healthy life.
Christine’s medical struggles began when an autoimmune disorder left her with only 10 percent of her kidney function. When exploring treatment options, Christine’s doctors suggested a living donation as her best hope for recovery.
“The HHS estimates that every day, an average of 22 people die waiting for an organ transplant.”
According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), kidneys are the most commonly given organ among living donors, as humans are born with two but can survive with one. Liver donations are similarly done through living donors, as the organ regenerates itself.
Compared with organs from deceased donors, living donors also provide the best health outcomes for their recipients despite needing to take anti-rejection drugs to maintain the foreign organ in their body, according to UNOS. In 2014, living donors made about 5,000 transplants possible.
Who you know
While some individuals find themselves on transplant waitlists for months at a time, others find generosity in close friends and family members who volunteer to donate.
In Christine’s case, that was her father Tom. Although Tom turned out to be a poor match for Christine—who had been doing four-hour dialysis treatments, three times a week—his generosity resulted in an unexpected effect. Doctors identified a paired kidney match, leading to a separate living donor giving their kidney to Christine, and Tom donating his kidney to another recipient to make it possible.
Not everyone is so lucky. The HHS estimates that every day, an average of 22 people die waiting for an organ transplant.
For Christine, not waiting meant she could get back to raise her eight-year-old twins and running her own culinary school. In light of her surgery, she also no longer puts off traveling. The same goes for Tom, who became inspired to take an off-the-grid adventure in Alaska and remains in good health following his operation.