Hello friends and family! This is a picture of my friend Sandy Huber Henry and myself in our High School years in Lake Andes, SD. Sandy is graciously giving me the incredible gift of life by donating one of her kidneys. Our surgeries are on April 6th at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Sandy is my hero, a strong and courageous person.
I have polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disorder that causes loss of kidney function over time. My mother was transplanted in 2000, and has done well for over 20 years. She will be 90 in August! My sister, Darcy, was transplanted over a year ago and is also doing very well. Her donor is Rochelle Palmer, who happens to live across the street from Sandy in Sioux Falls, SD.
Last fall, I qualified to be on the transplant list. It usually takes 4-5 years to receive a kidney through this process, and many people need to go on dialysis during that time. Fortunately, our mutual friend Jim Trchka reunited me and Sandy during the COVID pandemic. When Sandy learned that I needed a transplant, she said “I would be honored to give you a kidney.” This is a reflection of what a brave and generous person she is. Sandy earned her PhD in education, has raised three amazing children, and has eight beautiful grandchildren. Her husband, Tom, has been very supportive throughout the donation process.
Growing up in Lake Andes, Sandy babysat for Vance Thompson and his siblings. Their mom, Judy, was a very special friend and mentor to Sandy. Judy endured unsuccessful kidney transplants and spent the rest of her life on dialysis. This resonated with Sandy, and inspired her to give the gift of life in Judy’s memory. I am humbled, grateful, and forever thankful!
I have learned so much through this process. A lot of this journey has been spiritual and quite emotional. I am going into this surgery feeling strong, positive, loved and supported. Thank you to everyone who has helped me get here!
Sandy and I would like to use our journey to help others. April is National Donate Life month! There are currently more than 110,000 men, women and children waiting for an organ transplant in the US, and a new person is added to the national transplant wait list every 10 minutes. Of those, 85% need a kidney. My brother, Doug Edwards, is currently on dialysis and will need a kidney transplant in the near future.
For those who read this and have interest in learning more about the process of being a kidney donor, please visit The National Kidney Foundation at https://www.kidney.org/transplantation/livingdonors/general-information-living-donation.
Thank you for thinking of us and for your support!