Seven years ago, FNU staff member Dee Morgan noticed an advertisement on the back of a vehicle looking for a kidney. She thought, “how sad.” A few days later she saw the call out on another car, then she heard it on the radio, and saw a story about it on TV. She did some research and learned about being a living organ donor.
“I felt led to go get tested. I didn’t tell my family,” Dee Morgan said.
She didn’t think she would be a match, but she quickly found out she was. By the time she made it through more testing, a donor was already found for that person.
A few years went by and she received a call from her daughter, Kennedy. Kennedy’s old high school athletic trainer, Walker Terhune, needed a kidney and she wanted her mom to try to donate to him. Soon after, Dee filled out the paperwork to do the testing to see if she was a match. She began the process in October of 2020.
“Within thirty minutes, the University of Kentucky Organ & Transplant Center called me to do the initial testing,” Dee said.
After doing the initial blood work, Dee had to go in for further testing such as a psychological exam, chest x-ray, family history, CT scan with dye, and more. Soon after, in January of 2021, she got a call back saying she was a match.
The hospital staff encouraged Dee to call him since she knew him. She sent him a text explaining who she was and that she wanted to talk to him.
“Fifteen minutes later he called me asking what he could do for me,” Dee said. “…well, it’s actually what can I do for you? I would like to donate a kidney to you.”
Walker didn’t realize Dee had already completed all of the testing and was ready to set up their surgery. He provided the contact information so she could begin the testing process.
“…No you don’t understand. I already went through the testing; I’m basically calling to schedule our surgery,” she told him. “He just sat there silent. He almost didn’t believe me.”
With Walker being a week away from starting dialysis, they scheduled the surgery for February 26, 2021. The surgery went smoothly, both recovered quickly, and “their” kidney is doing well.
“I’m shocked at how easy it was,” Dee said.
Dee and Walker still stay in touch today and celebrate their surgery anniversary. Dee has inspired her daughter to try to donate after she has a family.
How Can You Be a Living Donor
There is a common misconception that you can only be an organ donor after you die. Many people do not realize they can be a living organ donor and donate a kidney, part of their liver, and certain other organs and tissues.
According to HRSA, about 6,500 living donation transplants happen every year.
To be a living donor, you must go through a complete physical exam, lab tests, and screenings for cancer and other diseases and complete a mental health evaluation and family medical history questionnaire. You must be 18 years old or older, be in good health, and fully understand the risks and benefits.
If a kidney donor ever finds that they are in need of a kidney, they are bumped to the top of the recipient list.
If you want to donate to someone, but your kidney isn’t a good match, you may be able to do a kidney paired donation. According to UNOS, this, also known as a kidney exchange, is when two or more pairs of living donors swap kidneys to make a compatible match. By the end, each recipient receives a compatible transplant. Read about this “kidney chain” that took place involving 12 people and 6 states.