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In September 2006, I was given a very unexpected purpose and gift. I was with my nephew and family members when we were told he needed a kidney transplant just weeks before he was to begin his freshman year at Penn State. Immediately I wanted to get tested, and be his donor.
The testing went smoothly—I felt at ease as I went to each test and exam. The transplant coordinator, team and ancillary departments were very friendly. After praying and going through all the required testing, I did become my nephew’s kidney donor.
What a thrilling moment it was when I was able to call my nephew and family to give them the great news — that I would be the donor! It is a moment I’ll always cherish.
I donated my kidney only 10 weeks after he was told that he needed a transplant. After my kidney donation, I was in very little pain from the incision. My nephew is doing great! He is able to move ahead with his plans in life. I am very thankful and blessed. I would like to offer a special thank you to Denise Hall, Transplant Donor Coordinator.
Mark J Ashcroft
E Stroudsburg, PA
In August of 1998 my father had his first kidney transplant. At the time, I wanted to be tested to see if I was a suitable match. But because of my age, my parents wouldn’t hear of it. I knew immediately that if he ever needed another kidney I would be tested. As chance would have it, ten years later he was told he needed another transplant. Again, my father tried to tell me “no” but my decision was already made.
I went through the evaluation and passed – I was a match. I talked to the transplant team at Geisinger in length. They answered all the questions my family and I posed to the transplant team. I was never nervous. That is the number one question I was asked, but I really never felt nervous. After all, what was there to be nervous about — I was giving my father the gift of life.
On June 6, 2008, I was so proud to be able to give my father a second chance at life. I was in the hospital for three days. By the fourth day after surgery I was able to take walks to the barn and back. Within two weeks I was walking down our four-mile dirt road. The more I moved the better I felt. After three weeks I was back to my administrative assistant job working part time. After eight weeks I returned full time. Within two months I took 10 of my cows to the county fair. I am currently working as a full-time administrative assistant and also tend to nearly 20 Jersey cows.
There are no words to describe giving someone life. Everyone told me it was a huge decision to make. It wasn’t. It was either a dad or a kidney — that’s an easy one for me. The testing I received evaluated me for anything and everything- so if the transplant team didn’t feel I was 100% healthy they wouldn’t have put me at risk. And as much as I am so proud to have been the one to give my father a second chance, I would not have hesitated to help someone else. After seeing the struggle my father went through before his first transplant, I knew I would help another family to save them from watching one of their loved ones suffer.
The transplant team at Geisinger was so down to earth and available to answer any questions. They made me feel like family!
Kim Barker, Age 26