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.

-Nick

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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