Organ Donor of the Week – October 15

Everyone, Meet Karen.

Karen’s work week was always ordinary: early mornings, emails, chats with coworkers. And then one diagnosis interrupted her routine and changed Karen’s life forever.

Karen’s colleague Jessica was diagnosed with Polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a disease that causes clusters of cysts to develop in the kidneys—often resulting in the organ’s failure. Jessica was going to be added to the long transplant waiting list, but Karen saw a simple, alternative solution to Jessica’s problem. She would give Jessica a kidney.

“I had a strong feeling that I had to do this,” says Karen. “People talk about a calling in life, and I guess that’s what this was.”

But Karen’s kidney didn’t go to Jessica.

Karen wasn’t a donor match for her coworker, but this didn’t stop her from saving Jessica’s life. Karen and Jessica participated in a nineteen-person donor-chain, also known as a domino exchange. The domino exchange allowed incompatible donors and recipient pairs to come together and benefit from the series of surgeries.

We met Karen at the Pittsburgh Irish Festival. She visited our organ donor registration booth and showed us the long scar across her abdomen. It’s been 3 years since her surgery—and she remains a strong advocate of organ donation.

You don’t have to be a living donor to be somebody’s champion. Register to be an organ donor here or write a note to one of the 10,000 patients on the waiting list. Do you have a story or experience with organ donation or transplantation to share? Tell us all about it.

Play It Forward Pittsburgh will be joining TSE at the Mall at Robinson this Saturday 10/21 for an awesome event including signings with Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Ryan Shazier; tickets! Follow @PlayItFwdPGH on social media for upcoming giveaways and campaign updates!

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