Illinois Donor Diaries-Chapter 38-Against the Odds

In this post, Cherri shares how she made the brave decision to donate a kidney to help a close friend. If you have questions about living donation, check out our previous post on the subject. Thank you for sharing your story, Cherri.


All my life I’ve been one to lead by example. For 27 years, I taught kids how to write; fifteen weeks ago, I set a whole new kind of example by becoming a living organ donor.

My friend Lisa has PKD (Polycistic Kidney Disease); an inherited disease that eventually leads to renal failure, necessitating dialysis or a transplant. Within the last year, her kidney function started decreasing rapidly. She was on the waiting list for a kidney, but the average waiting time is four years and it looked like dialysis was just around the corner. At that moment, I knew what I wanted to do.  I initiated the process of being tested to be a kidney donor for Lisa. I was taken through the mill, as far as tests go. There were some definite bumps in the road, with the outcomes being pretty much unbelievable: I was perfect match for Lisa.

One thing I have yet to mention is that I am 62 years old.  I am at what would be considered the top of the range that someone would be considered as a donor.  To my initial surprise, my age was not a factor in determining me as Lisa’s match. In fact, my pre-transplant coordinator informed me that not that long ago, a 75 year old man donated his kidney to his son! Today, I feel great and Lisa continues to feel better all the time. My kidney is working perfectly and I fully believe that it will last Lisa many, many years.

Being a living donor is not something to fear. There is no greater gift than to give someone’s life back to them or, literally, save their life.  I always tell people that Lisa got my kidney, but I got the greater gift.  The decision to become an organ donor is a very personal one.  When I thought about how blessed I am to be able to not only do the things I need to do, but also the things I want to do, there really was no decision to make.  Instead of asking myself, “Should I do it?” my heart said, “Why wouldn’t I?”.  I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.  It was the most rewarding, life-changing experience I will ever have.

I hope that my story encourages others to lead my example and not let age stop them from pursuing the possibility of being a donor. I was an organ donor for years before I even considered living donation. Today, I am a 62 year old woman, found to be in exceptional health, who was willing to step out and overcome the odds.

-Cherri McCullough

Taylorville, IL

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