My Kidney Donation Story: Kearney Murphy
I was familiar with kidney donation, but I’d always thought you could only donate to a family member.
Then I met Stephanie through my Bible study group and learned she was about to have her second kidney transplant. A friend of Stephanie’s mother donated on her behalf, allowing her to receive a life-giving transplant. Praying for Stephanie through her surgery and recovery and learning about living donors like hers planted a seed in my mind. I thought to myself, “Hey, I think I could do that. “
In August of 2021 I was listening to a podcast during my lunch hour. I was really struck by something the man who donated his kidney said. He said we are all walking around with a spare tire, passing right by so many people who have flat tires that we could help. I signed up with the National Kidney Registry to begin the screening process that same day.
After receiving the most thorough physical of my life, including extensive blood work, urinalysis, EKG, chest x-rays, and CT scan, I was declared healthy and approved to donate my kidney. All of this testing is done at no cost to the prospective donor.
I initially thought I would find and choose my recipient. If you try Googling, “I need a kidney” you will see how overwhelming the need is and how stressful it became for me to choose one person. My transplant center told me that as a non designated donor, if I left the matching up to the NKR, I could possibly be part of a chain of donations and be able to help even more people get transplanted.
My surgery was Wednesday, April 13, 2022, at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston Salem, NC. I had no complications and was able to go home that Friday. Recovery went smoothly and I was able to return to work around Memorial Day. By July 4th, I felt 100% back to my normal self.
Everyone has their own reason for donating. For me, it was learning about having a “calling” from my pastor. I had previously associated a calling with something specifically church-related like a ministry or a mission. I have since learned that a calling can be a gift you have, a talent, something you are passionate about or your purpose. I have discovered that my career as a dental hygienist is my calling. My purpose is to help others have better health by having a healthy mouth and clean teeth.
I know firsthand my patients’ medical histories and health challenges. From this I can see how fortunate I am to have been blessed with very good health throughout all of my 50+ years. My kidney donation was my way of sharing the gift of my good health with someone else who struggles with theirs. I never had children of my own so I never gave anyone life or brought anyone into the world but by donating my kidney, I’d like to think I changed or even saved the life of someone who was already here.
When I had considered donating in the past, the one thing that stood in my way was my mother and how I knew she would worry over me having surgery and living with only one kidney. Sadly, Mom passed in July 2020. I can’t help but think that her death, where she’s now in a place with no worry or sadness, was made good by giving me the freedom, permission and motivation to pursue becoming a living kidney donor.
And I know Mom is proud of me. I can just hear her voice in my mind telling me, “You done good, kid!”
About the Author
Kearney Murphy was invited to be a voluntary guest blog author based on her championing of kidney donation on social media. She is a dental hygienist who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and chihuahuas, Polly and Birdie. You can read more about her kidney donation journey on her Facebook page.