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My Kidney Donation Story: Karen Jones

Karen Jones

My interest in becoming a living kidney donor started about 10 years ago when I heard a story on the radio about someone who needed a kidney and was looking for a living donor. I didn’t know you could be a living person and donate an organ and still live!

After that, I would occasionally check into being a living donor but then I would back off, because what if my son needed one or my husband needed one?

Last March, I saw a billboard on my way home from work about someone who needed a kidney. I took it a step further this time—I actually registered and went through the first part of the process. The hospital called and said, Thanks, but we don’t want to put a 50-something kidney into a 20-something-year-old. I called right back and told them I was still willing to donate to someone else.

If I get cleared, clearly, I am meant to do this.

Karen Jones

I never heard back from them, but the experience put the thought back in my head and I decided to dig a little deeper this go round. So, I re-registered and got the ball rolling again. When I saw all the tests I would have to do, I thought, If I get cleared, clearly, I am meant to do this.

Although it had nothing to do with my decision, my cousin also donated to his niece in April 2022. I knew he had donated but forgot about it until I was in the middle of testing for my own donation. For Christmas, I had shirts made for us that have “One Kidney Cousins” on the front and our name and year on the back. The running joke now is that when he is also at a family gathering, we have an even number of kidneys.

Before I went for my all-day testing, I found out that my best friend’s ex-sister-in-law’s current husband needed a kidney. Ironically, the friend who shared the post had donated a kidney 22 years ago. I asked my coordinator how I could help him, and she said the Voucher Program would be the best way.

I reached out to the guy’s wife and told her I was going through the testing and could list him on my voucher. They were on the waiting list at five different hospitals, but no one ever told them about the National Kidney Registry or about vouchers. She couldn’t donate because of her own health issues, and no one had ever told them they could find a friend or family member to donate to on their behalf. They didn’t think that was even a thing. Even after I got approved and got the voucher filled out, she still didn’t think it seemed real.

I donated on August 16, 2023, and on January 4, 2024, my voucher recipient got his kidney. I would hands down do it again if I could. I almost feel guilty because I had no pain. I would say I was back to 100% within two months, maybe three. I try to tell anyone willing to listen in the hopes that I get one more person to go through the process and help someone else live a better life.

About the Author

I am a wife and a mother to one son. I am a huge believer in helping others in any possible way, which is why on top of being a living kidney donor I am also a regular platelet donor at the American Red Cross. I live outside of Atlanta, GA, and work full time from home. I was very fortunate to be medically able to donate my spare kidney to a stranger. I seem to talk nonstop about NKR to any and every one hoping that I will inspire someone else to take the same journey as I did. In my spare time, I help with a few animal rescue groups and love watching the birds and other wildlife that venture into our backyard. Donating my spare kidney was one of the biggest joys of my life!

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