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In 2023, there were a reported 6,950 living organ donor transplants.  According to the reported data, 33% of the living donations were from and to biological related, family.  However, surprising 54% were reported to be non-biologically related.

What would motivate a person to become a living organ donor?  If it was to save the life of a family member, most of us would probably hesitate, but would at least get tested to see if they could save a life.  But what about donating an organ to friend or even a stranger?  

There is no financial reward for the donor, and in fact it will cost a living donor money.  There are laws that prevent the selling of human organs, in the USA, Canada and Mexico.  And not every hospital can perform organ transplants and there are just 250 transplant centers in the USA.

We spoke to two living donors, Cheyenne and Charles, and this is what they told us:

Why would a person become a living organ donor? 

Cheyenne: “I didn’t have an “aha!” moment that made me decide to do it. It just came so naturally.  Everyone deserves a chance at life, and I couldn’t pass up not being that person who stepped up.”

Charles: “If you see someone drowning, and you can swim, why wouldn’t you save them.  That’s the way I thought of donating a kidney.”

Tell us about the process and what you went through.  Did you have to take much time off work prior to the donation surgery?

Charles: “I missed a fair amount of work…Testing was three hours away from home, so I had to take a day of work to get tested and the various doctors’ appointments.”

How long did it take from the time you were tested to the time of surgery?

Charles: “It was seven months from the time I was originally tested to the day of donation surgery.  In fact, the surgery took place on Valentine’s Day 2024.”

Cheyenne: “It was less than 90 days, I think, from start to finish. I reached out the first week of January and was on the surgery table March 25th. (No thanks to my pushy and insistent suggestions at every doctor’s appointment)”

Did you have second thoughts about donating?

Cheyenne: “This wasn’t something I ever thought twice about, to me, this decision was easier than picking what movie I wanted to watch or what I wanted to eat. I think I thought more about what I wanted to eat AFTER surgery over actually HAVING it.”

Charles: “The person that received my kidney had posted on Facebook that he needed a kidney transplant.  People commented that they would keep him in their prayers, but not one person offered to be a donor.  That just floored me.  I never had a second thought.  I wasn’t even nervous about the surgery or recovery.  I was more worried about missing trash pickup than I was about the surgery.”

Was your employer supportive of what you were doing?

Charles: “Yes.  I am a diesel mechanic and a volunteer firefighter.  I never had any trouble getting the time off during the testing stage.  I was able to take time off I needed to recover post-transplant, however I must say that I am excited to get back to work.”

Cheyenne: “I was hired three weeks prior to my surgery.  In my interview, I was asked “name a time you went above and beyond for a client?” and I responded with “I’m donating a kidney to my personal training client’s wife, does that count??” I got the job.”

How was your recovery?  Have you had any problems or issues?

Cheyenne: “I was back to working out within 1.5 weeks, I did a light leg workout. I did my first Brazilian Ju-Jitsu open mat at my 3-week mark and finally returning to softball at my 4-week mark with no complications at all.”

Charles: “Not at all.  This whole experience has been amazing.  I am normally a positive and happy person, but seeing the recipient and his daughters after the surgery was an unbelievable feeling. It has been a total overwhelming happy experience.”