Lori McMillan Depauw sits in the bleachers at her son’s middle school, cheering on his basketball team. But just weeks ago she was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, about to undergo kidney transplant surgery.
The transplantation team at Mayo determined that Lori’s sister Mary was a perfect match for a living donor kidney transplant.
Transplant surgeon Dr.Mikel Prieto says, “The surgery basically is taking a kidney from a healthy donor. We do this laparoscopic, with very small incisions, and giving it to a recipient.”
As their family anxiously waited, doctors took one of Mary’s healthy kidneys and transplanted it into Lori.
Dr. Prieto says, “The huge advantage to doing it this way is, first of all… is that the person that gets the kidney gets a very healthy kidney that has been out of the body for just a few minutes. So, it’s a kidney that is a very high quality kidney.”
The transplant surgery was a success. Transplant surgeon Dr.Timucin Taner said, “Things went really well. (We) did a kidney transplant, living donor kidney transplant. So her sister gave a beautiful kidney and we just put that in. So things went really well “
Mary is now back at her home in North Carolina, and has returned to work. Lori had to stay in Rochester for three weeks while doctors adjusted her medications, but she is now also home, and feeling better than ever.
Lori says, “The doctors said that the transplant went so well. It was like identical twins actually exchanged kidneys.”
Dr. Taner says, “So, it’s one of those organs that we have two of, and we only need one, so that’s why we can do what we do.”
According to the American Transplant Foundation, more than 6,000 living donations occur each year. And one in four donors is not biologically related to the recipient.
“Everybody that knows somebody that may need a transplant, or is on dialysis, should think about considering the option of helping them out with a gift of life… kidney donation.” says Dr. Prieto.
Lori says that gift from Mary has created an even stronger bond between the sisters. “Mary and I have become so much closer. We’ve always been close, but I think there’s a different kind of connection now, where we’re FaceTiming at least once or twice a day and texting the rest of the time.”
And Lori, who is a sergeant with the Loves Park Police Department, expects to be back to work soon…helping to keep the streets of Loves Park safe. She says, “Oh I feel absolutely wonderful! I feel awake. I feel like, really like a whole new person.”
To register to become an organ donor in Illinois, you can do it when you apply for or renew your drivers license or go online to www.donatelifeillinois.org or www.lifegoeson.org.