Martha’s Story

Site created on August 8, 2018

On Tuesday, Sept 18, I'll be undergoing surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN to donate a kidney to Deb Porter Gill, a beautiful woman I have grown to love and respect as we have traveled together on this journey.   Don and I are using this site to keep our friends and family updated through my surgery and recovery.  You can check here for updates or sign up to get email notifications when we post.

This story started 16 years ago when a wonderful family friend, Cheryl Cooper, donated a kidney to my beloved Omaha cousin Ann Goldstein.  That lifesaving transplant gave us many more wonderful years to enjoy with Ann.   She was one of my favorite people in the whole world.  When I read in the Jewish Chronicle last December about Deb's search for a kidney, I knew I had to try to pay that gift forward.  Miraculously, Deb and I are an astoundingly good match, and after extensive testing, Mayo determined I have "textbook perfect kidneys" and am healthy and sane (!) enough to be a living kidney donor.

You can read Deb's original story in the Jewish Chronicle here:
And more about our joint story here:
And here's Deb's CaringBridge site:

Thanks for all of your well wishes and support during this journey.  I am eager to get through surgery and get my "spare" kidney into Deb, where it can begin to do its new job!  

Newest Update

Journal entry by Martha Gershun

I have to admit it felt a little weird driving away from Rochester this morning -- leaving Deb and my kidney behind.  I guess now it's really hers for good!

We had an easy drive home - Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas.  I dozed on and off, and Don did a great job of driving "gently" and finding premium places to stop so I could stretch and walk around as recommended.  Fortunately, he agreed that we deserved Dairy Queen ice cream at noon instead of lunch, so that stop was a special treat.

We got home around 4 p.m. and were greeted by our cat, Raja, who meowed, purred, rubbed, and finally settled down.  We've opened the mail and the Amazon boxes and unpacked the car (Don) and the suitcases (me).  It will take a few days to get everything back to normal, but we're pretty close.  Now we're all sitting out on the Gloria P. Gershun Memorial Deck (Raja, too), which is our favorite room in the house.  I intend to spend the rest of my recuperation sitting right here.

This will be our last CaringBridge post.  One week after surgery I'm sore and tired - and I still have the surgeon's initials written on the left side of my abdomen in, apparently, very permanent marker.  But I really do feel pretty good.  And Don has worked hard to keep up with his JFS duties as much as possible by email, phone, and conference call.  So we're ready to call the project a success and sign off.  I will always be grateful that my body miraculously "matched" with Deb, so that we were able to help return her to a vibrant, healthy life.  She texted me last night:  "I did 6,000 steps today!! I haven't done that in 2 years!"  That really says it all.

Thank you all so much for your hearts, comments, prayers, support, and encouragement.  We have the best friends and family in the world!

Love and Shabbat Shalom,
Martha & Don
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