Mar 10, 2014 8:00 AM

Author: Elisa Anguiano

I have always been fascinated with medicine and the miracles it can perform. Organ donation in particular, was something that I believed was interesting and important. There is something so wonderful about the fact that you can save the lives of multiple people by simply being an organ donor. Because of my interest in medicine and organ donation, one of my goals was to attend medical school and eventually become a transplant surgeon.

My interest in living kidney donation actually started while I was watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. In the episode, they were to perform a six-way paired kidney exchange. There was one character that stood out to me. She was young, and unlike the other donors, she did not have any family connections to the donor recipients. She was a good Samaritan, or non-directed donor, which meant that she had decided to give her kidney to a stranger, purely out of kindness. I wasn’t even aware that it was possible to donate to someone without having any prior relationship with them. I knew immediately that this was something that I wanted to pursue. I began researching living kidney donations and sent an email to Intermountain donor services requesting more information on how to become a living donor. I chose to go trough the University of Utah transplant center and was contacted by Bruce Garrett, who lead me through the whole process leading up to the donation.

Although I was only 18 at the time, I knew that it was something that I wanted to do. I had a rough time at first being so young. There were many who thought that it would not be wise and that I didn’t know what I was signing myself up for. They told me that it was a long time to live with only one kidney.  I knew that being young meant that I was healthy and resilient and that because of that I would heal quickly. I had two fully functional kidneys and there was someone out there who didn’t even have one.  

Almost one year later, after paperwork, and many lab tests, my case was presented to the transplant board. I was nervous that I would not be accepted because of my age, but shortly after, I received a call from Bruce, who told me that I had been approved. I was finally ready to set my surgery date. I was told that I would be donating to someone local, who had a very difficult time finding a match.

Three days after my 19th birthday, on May 7, 2013, I gave my right kidney to a woman I had never met. Later that night, I was told that the recipient was doing well and that the surgery had been successful. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome after all the anticipation.

It has been almost 8 months since I donated, I started college at the University of Utah studying business while fulfilling my perquisites for medical school, and I am the happiest and healthiest I have ever been. I don’t know if I’ll ever had the opportunity to meet my recipient but I think of her often. I know this experience has been a profound one for me and if I become a transplant surgeon someday as I hope to, I will use this experience to relate to my patients. I truly feel privileged to be among those who give and receive the precious gift of life.

transplant kidney transplant

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