Any illness can be harrowing, but those requiring transplants can be particularly devastating. There are literally thousands of people waiting for transplants at this moment, and many will die before the organs they need become available.
For Liz Anderson, of Kansas City, Missouri, finding a suitable donor was an ordeal. Since January of 2011, Ms. Anderson has a condition that caused her to need dialysis. Though immediate family members are often close enough matches to be able to provide kidneys, testing revealed that all of the relatives that tested to donate to her were excluded. But her prayers were answered in the form of her friend and co-worker, Toni Lamb.
The two women have worked together at Saint Joseph Medical Center for years – Anderson as a neo-natal nurse, and Lamb in labor and delivery. Lamb, whose father was on dialysis for several years, knew exactly what Anderson was facing and didn’t want her to have to go through it if she could help. She stated that she felt a “nudge” and was tested.
“Living donor” kidney transplants are fairly common in the United States. Though people are normally born with two functioning kidneys, the body can work with only one. When a patient needs a kidney transplant because of renal failure from disease or injury, family are often the first tested. Living donor transplants are often preferred, especially in emergency situations where the patient would not survive long enough to receive a kidney from the waiting list for donated organs.
Both women were amazed when Lamb qualified as a donor. Lamb was worried that, at 63, she would be considered too old to donate; she had also been concerned that she would not be able to donate a kidney to her friend because their blood types do not match. Fortunately, testing proved Lamb to be compatible.
The operation was recently performed at Saint Joseph Medical Center. Both patients are doing well, and are expected to be able return to work within the next two months. Anderson calls Lamb her “guardian angel.” After having been given the gift of life from her friend and co-worker, Anderson is grateful to have the opportunity to live to see her grandchildren.