Tag Archive for: kidney transplant

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Partner Spotlight — Lisa Miller, Jackson County, Kansas, Treasurer’s Office

Midwest Transplant Network partners with licensing, treasury and Department of Revenue offices in Kansas and western Missouri to grow the organ, eye and tissue donor registry. We spoke with Lisa Miller, Deputy Treasurer of the Jackson County, Kansas, Treasurer’s Office about why donation is so important to her.

Jackson County, Kansas Deputy Treasurer Lisa Miller

Jackson County, Kansas, Deputy Treasurer Lisa Miller

How does your specific office help inform and educate patrons on the importance of joining the donor registry?

We display all of the items that are provided by MTN and also participate in the promotions for National Donate Life Month and National DMV Appreciation Month with a display in our office.

We have in the past had our pictures of our displays in the local newspaper.

Why do you feel your office’s efforts to promote the need for organ, eye and tissue donors are so important?

Our office has a personal connection to organ donation. We have two employees with relatives who are recipients of organ donation and one employee who is a living donor.

Tell us about your connection to organ, eye and tissue donation.

In April 2004, my husband became ill and ended up in the hospital with an infection. After many doctor’s appointments and several years later, he ended up in the hospital and was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. Our belief is that the infection had attacked his heart. His cardiologist referred us to the Saint Luke’s transplant program. After spending the first half of 2014 in and out of the hospital, he was finally added to the transplant waitlist in July. He entered the hospital in October and received his heart in December. Since, he has been able to see two of his children get married and is enjoying his four grandchildren and hunting with his sons.

What is the biggest misconception you hear about donation in your personal and/or professional life?

That the medical professionals will not provide the care needed to save a life if they know that the individual is a donor.

If there is one thing you would want to share with others about the importance of joining the donor registry, what would it be?

It truly is a gift of life.

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Partner Spotlight — Linda Gerhardt, Jackson County, Kansas, Treasurer’s Office

As National DMV Appreciation Month comes to a close, Jackson County, Kansas, Treasurer Linda Gerhardt told us why organ, eye and tissue donation is personal to her.

Jackson County, Kansas, Treasurer Linda Gerhardt

Living donor and Jackson County, Kansas, Treasurer Linda Gerhardt

Mine is the story of a living kidney donor. My niece was diagnosed with diabetes when she was in high school. Her mother was diabetic, so she had inherited it. A few years after my niece got out of high school, she was continually sick and in and out of the hospital. She was on dialysis, and she did the dialysis at home at night and went to work during the day. She was a very hardworking, self-supporting young woman. The day came that she was told she needed a kidney transplant. She was put on the transplant waitlist and was told that could take quite a while.

As time went on, my niece became sicker; she was in and out of the hospital, and we worried she might not receive a kidney in time. One day I was at my mother’s, and she said to me, “If something were to happen to me, could Melody get one of my kidneys?” It suddenly opened my eyes. I told my sister of the conversation, and she said that she herself had asked the doctor about donating, and they had told her no because of a medical condition. I had never even given it a thought as a possibility. I was 39 years old and married with two boys. We were her dad’s sisters, so there was a chance we could match. Her parents were both deceased, and none of her brothers or sisters matched or for health reasons couldn’t donate. I suddenly realized this was something I could do.

I then started the process. I was an 80% match to Melody, and they told me that her dad and I probably would have been a perfect match. I had never been a person to go to the doctor unless I had to (kind of like not wanting to go to the dentist), but at the point of finding out I could help her, it was like God was leading my way. I had to monitor my blood pressure; I would go to the health department so they could record it for me. It would be high, and the nurse would say, “Let’s just visit for a while,” and then it would be fine. I passed all the tests.

We checked in at The University of Kansas Medical Center to do the surgery, and preliminary tests showed my niece had an infection, so it was put off for a month. The next time, we were good to go. My priest at church had announced to the congregation to pray for me and gave me a special blessing. It was all like it was meant to be.

On June 25, 2023, we marked 25 years since the transplant. I received the prettiest bouquet of flowers from her. Being an organ donor was never something I had considered, but knowing I could possibly save her life was such a good feeling. I never saw a bill for anything; it all went through my niece’s insurance.

When I was an organ donor, I did not work in the treasurer’s/driver’s license office. Now, I do, and I am honored to help inform people about and promote organ donation. It is amazing how surrounded we have been by organ donation in the courthouse. We’ve had a coworker’s husband receive a heart transplant and a coworker’s brother receive a kidney/pancreas transplant. And in the Register of Deeds office, a worker’s granddaughter received a lung transplant. On the third floor of the courthouse, a judge received a heart transplant, and a past employee’s husband received a kidney from his daughter. In some of these cases, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be here today if not for others’ generous donations.

We always participate in whatever we can to promote organ donation at our office. No one knows when they might be the next one to have a loved one suffering from an illness they never expected, whose life depends on your decision or someone else’s. If you have ever been faced with someone you know needing an organ transplant, you would know how important it is to be on the donor registry. Please think about organ donation.

Our thanks to Linda Gerhardt for writing this guest blog post.

Former Basketball Star Alonzo Jamison Teams Up with Wife Colleen Jamison in Support of Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation

WESTWOOD, Kan. (June 22, 2020) — Initially hesitant to talk about his need for a kidney transplant, Green Ribbon Champion Alonzo Jamison has found his voice. He now formally advocates for people to become registered organ, eye and tissue donors, years after undergoing dialysis and, later, receiving a kidney transplant from a living donor.

For the second year of his Green Ribbon Campaign, former University of Kansas power forward Jamison is partnering with a fellow donation advocate: his wife, Colleen Jamison. An attorney, Colleen spends much of her free time volunteering for the National Kidney Foundation and testifying for pro-donation legislation.

“I think education is really important, and I want to do whatever I can to get the word out,” Colleen said.

While Alonzo waited for a lifesaving kidney transplant, he underwent almost two years of nightly dialysis treatments.

“Physically, it was a chore,” Colleen said. “I wasn’t in his head, so I can’t even imagine how it must have been for him mentally.”

After keeping his diagnosis largely under wraps, Alonzo eventually decided to share with others his need of a kidney transplant.

“I had always encouraged Alonzo to be public with it, and he was reluctant,” Colleen said. “Then something happened to change that: A young man who Alonzo used to coach in basketball was public on social media about his medical issues. And Alonzo and I talked about it and decided that, if this young man is brave enough to go public, then maybe it’s time that Alonzo do the same.”

Alonzo and Colleen published a call for help on social media, and news stations that previously had covered Alonzo as a basketball player contacted him to find out more and help spread the word. Eventually, one of Colleen’s business acquaintances, Wichita native and Army veteran Shekinah Bailey, asked how he could be tested to potentially donate a kidney to Alonzo. Bailey was a match, and he soon donated one of his kidneys to Alonzo.

“After his transplant, Alonzo looked so much healthier — which he was, because he had a kidney that was functioning properly,” Colleen said.

Alonzo added: “Shekinah didn’t know me, and he had no obligation to help me, but that’s the kind of person he is. When it came down to saving my life, he stepped up to the plate. Through organ donation, people from all walks of life can provide these amazing gifts for each other.”

Alonzo and Bailey now are a team, bonded for life through this unique and humbling experience. Alonzo also speaks to the importance of his other MVP off the court.

“My wife, thankfully, is doing a lot to raise awareness for donation,” Alonzo said. “She was there for me when I went through my dialysis and things of that nature. I am so grateful that she was there for me.”

Everyone can be a registered organ donor — regardless of age or medical history — and the registration process is quick and easy. Individuals can sign up at ShareLifeMidwest.com or at the DMV when obtaining or renewing a driver’s license or ID card. More information about how to help support organ donation is available at mwtn.org/community-outreach.