My Kidney Donation Story: Sophia Jackson
What happens when you want to donate a kidney to a specific person, but you are not a match? That’s what happened to Sophia Jackson, who learned that Brooklyn police officer Vadrien Alston needed a kidney and decided she wanted to donate a kidney to her. This is Sophia’s story.
About a year ago, I was in Maryland for work and saw a news report about a police officer who needed a kidney, so I thought I would look into it when I got back home.
When I got back to Utah, I got the ball rolling. I got tested and a couple of weeks later my coordinator called and told me I was not a match. I was heartbroken, because my whole goal was to help Vadrien.
I told my donor mentor that I was not a match. I was doing my best not to cry but he heard it in my voice. He said, “Oh no, this is not the end—you can absolutely still help her if you want to.”
He told me I could donate on her behalf, so my kidney would go to someone I am a match for and the National Kidney Registry would find Vadrien a kidney that is a match for her. If she physically couldn’t get my kidney, someone else could. The NKR was going to help me help her.
For years, I’ve heard: “I need a kidney, I’m O negative,” or “I need a kidney, I’m A positive.” But modern-day medicine has evolved, and it has eliminated the problem of not being a blood type match. It’s a game-changer, but it’s also a life-changer.
I flew to New York for a day to get testing done. They told me I had to work on my iron levels, so they pushed the donation out two months while I did iron infusion shots. I hate needles, and in any other circumstance I would not have gotten those shots. Here I am wanting to help another person and I couldn’t even help myself. So in the process of helping Vadrien, she actually helped me and she doesn’t even know that.
The donation was October 11, 2022. I came out to New York for what I felt was an exciting donation journey. I could have donated closer to home, but I have family in New York and I had developed such a great relationship with my donation team at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell and I wanted them to help me see this through to the finish line.
It has been two months since my donation and I feel great. I feel like I could run the New York City Marathon.
When I decided to do this, people asked me why I would donate a kidney to a complete stranger. My answer has always been: why not? Life is full of shoulda, coulda, woulda. This is someone I can help now.
What the NKR does with the Voucher Program is amazing. It gives people the opportunity to save two people—your intended recipient and the person who will get your kidney. It’s a real blessing.
About the Author
Sophia Jackson is from Brooklyn, New York but currently resides in Utah. She is a Property and Leasing Administrator for a commercial development company based out of Maryland. Her hobbies include traveling, and as weird as it sounds, she enjoys cleaning. She recently donated and kidney to a stranger, on behalf of another stranger and it has sparked her interest in advocating for organ donation, especially living organ donation.