- A Fond du Lac woman helped her sister-in-law get a kidney by donating one of her own to a stranger.
- UW Organ and Tissue Donation (UW OTD) hosted an educational table on organ and tissue donation at SSM Health St. Agnes Hospital on Tuesday to help connect people with resources related to organ donation.
- Video shows the woman's story and experts from SSM Health St. Agnes discussing organ donation.
Barb Hinn of Fond du Lac was determined to help her sister-in-law get a kidney. Hinn said her sister-in-law was on a waitlist for a new kidney for about 10 years, and her health was declining. Hinn wanted to donate her own kidney but found out she wasn’t a match. Luckily, she found another way to help.
“There was a process where I could donate to a stranger who needed a kidney that matched me, and by doing so, it would move my sister-in-law up on the waitlist to help her get a kidney sooner,” Hinn said.
Hinn donated her kidney in February 2022; and once the procedure was complete, her sister was bumped up on the national transplant waiting list.
Within just eight weeks, her sister-in-law got a call that there was a kidney available for her. She got the transplant in April 2022 after 10 years of waiting.
Meanwhile, Hinn’s kidney went to a woman in Illinois, whose husband had donated to a stranger on her behalf similar to what Barb did.
Hinn said recovery was fairly quick and she was out of the hospital in about 48 hours.
“It was something that was so simple, yet pretty profound,” Hinn said.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 103,868 people are on the national transplant waiting list.
Like any major surgery, kidney donation has risks just as infection or bleeding. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is a less than 1% chance of future kidney failure after kidney donation.
Some people choose to be organ donors after they’ve passed away, and Anne Otter with the Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin said it’s important to have those conversations early.
“The last thing you want is for them to find out you want it to be a donor at the worst possible time for them to find out,” Otter said.
UW Organ and Tissue Donation (UW OTD) hosted an educational table on organ and tissue donation at SSM Health St. Agnes Hospital on Tuesday to help connect people with resources related to organ donation.
Deborah Toth, a medical social worker at SSM Health St. Agnes Hospital, said it’s a good idea for everyone aged 18 and older to designate a medical power of attorney to make decisions, like those surrounding organ donation, in a crisis situation.
“If that is documented in their advanced directive, and the answer is right there, and it's no longer a struggle,” Toth said.
Toth said the process can be beneficial not only for the person receiving the organ but also for the family of a deceased donor.
“I think it also helps a donor's family to know that a piece of them lives on,” Toth said.
Those interested in organ donation should consult with a physician to learn about options that would be best for them.