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My Kidney Donation Story: Kathie Neyman

Kathie Neyman

In 2022, I was 63. I had never considered organ donation other than being a donor on my driver’s license. I had never thought about it, never known anyone who had donated a kidney or had a kidney transplant. I wasn’t even really aware that you could donate a kidney.

One day I was on Facebook and saw that a friend had posted that they needed a kidney. They were asking people to consider donating and to share the post. I shared the post, but that really unsettled me because here I was asking people to consider donating a kidney when I didn’t know if donating was something I would be willing to do.

I’m old, I’m 63, there is no way they’re going to take me. And why would I want to put myself through this?

Kathie Neyman

I thought my age and some other prior surgeries would disqualify me as a donor. I thought, I’m old, I’m 63, there is no way they’re going to take me. And why would I want to put myself through this? After doing more research and learning as much as I could about the need for kidney donors and that I could live a healthy life post-surgery, the question became: why wouldn’t I want to do this? So I filled out the preliminary online screening form. Sure enough, I was preliminarily approved.

I had given my phone number as part of the preliminary screening, and about five minutes after I hit Send, I got a call from a donor mentor from the NKR. She said, you just filled out this form to be a kidney donor and I am a kidney donor. I am not trying to persuade you—I just want to share my story.

We had the loveliest conversation. She told me her story and it was amazing. It really stirred my interest and made me want to dig a little deeper. She kept up with me throughout the entire process and has been an inspiration.

I kept going through the testing process because I figured it wasn’t costing me anything. Also, I’m not good about going to the doctor, and this would force me to get up to date on all my routine tests and screenings. I just kept passing all the tests, and the more I passed, the more invested I was in continuing the process of donating a kidney.

If I can make a difference in someone’s life at this stage in my life, I’m going to do it.

Kathie Neyman

My Donor Coordinator from the hospital called me one day and told me that the person I was testing for had been put on hold for a transplant. I said that’s OK, I want to do it anyway. If I can make a difference in someone’s life at this stage in my life, I’m going to do it. It really became a mission: I am going to produce the healthiest little kidney! I felt this would be a way I could impact somebody’s whole quality of life, so I just kept pushing.

During all this, my husband was also being tested, and they found something on his kidney. They told him that I should put my donation on pause in case I needed to be his caregiver. Fortunately, his biopsy was benign. But through the Voucher Program, I was able to give him a voucher in case he needs a kidney in the future. We have five kids between us and they all got vouchers too.

I donated my right kidney on December 20, 2022. My recipient, although I didn’t know her at the time, had her transplant on the same day at the same hospital. It ends up that she lives 10 miles away from me! We were able to meet a few months later which was an amazing and emotional experience for us both. She is doing great! She calls me her Christmas Miracle.

I only spent one night in the hospital. I took maybe one or two pain pills then took Tylenol the rest of the time, which wasn’t even necessary. Happily, I had an uneventful recovery and I was back to normal activities within a few weeks.

To anyone considering kidney donation, I would say just start the testing process. You can back out anytime. Literally the last question my team asked when they wheeled me into surgery was: Are you sure you want to do this? I said yes, for the 150th time, yes!

It isn’t for everybody. For me, I wish I could grow more kidneys to donate because it’s been a game-changer for me. I’m 64 now and feel great! I am probably healthier now than I was before my donation. And I’m so happy I was to give in a meaningful way at this stage in my life. After all, age is just a number!

About the Author

Kathie is a non-directed kidney donor living in Smyrna, Georgia, with her husband and their three golden retrievers, Lark, Otto, and Paddy (aka the Golden Gang of Georgia). She is an active volunteer with various nonprofits. Since donating her kidney, she volunteers with organizations promoting organ transplantation and advocating for legislation aimed at ending the kidney shortage. She enjoys traveling, gardening, and cheering on the Atlanta Braves.

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