In 2012, Consumers Energy employee Randi Richards donated a kidney to her friend and co-worker Ande Johnston. We checked back in with Johnston and Richards post-surgery for an update.
“I have had two years now of successful post-transplant life,” reported Johnston, “my health is great.”
Johnston will continue to be on medication for the rest of his life to ensure his body doesn’t reject the kidney; monthly blood draws monitor his kidney function and medication levels. Generally by the two to three year mark they feel like the body won’t reject the organ.
“I have an extreme amount of gratitude, as anyone in my situation would, for Randi as my donor and for Consumers Energy who has been flexible with giving me the time off for the surgery and recovery and follow up care,” said Johnston.
Unlike Johnston, not everyone is fortunate enough to know someone who is a match, which is why he encourages others to sign-up to be an organ donor. He has a friend who recently received a donor kidney after being on dialysis for several years. “She very much benefited from an altruistic donor who volunteered to be tested and put on the list,” he said. After several of her family members were tested and found not to be matches she received her kidney through the organ donation database.
Richards is also doing well, “I just had my two-year check-up and received a clean bill of health. As long as I take care of myself I will have a long, full life, which is a relief,” she said.
While the surgery was more invasive and the recovery longer for Richards than for Johnston, she wouldn’t change a thing. “I don’t have any regrets,” said Richards. “It went to a great person – I’m glad he is happy and healthy and he’s still a great friend.”
Richards says anyone thinking of being an organ donor should talk to someone who has been through it. “It can be a scary process and talking to other people who had done it really eased my mind,” she said. She added that she has not talked to anyone who regretted it, regardless if the surgery was a success and the transplant took.
Facts on Organ Donation
According to organdonor.gov, every day about 79 people receive organ transplants but 18 people die waiting because of the shortage of donated organs. Better understand organ donation with these facts:
- Anyone, regardless of age or medical history, can sign up to be a donor
- When matching donor organs to recipients, the computerized matching system considers issues like severity of illness, blood type, time spent waiting and geographic location
- There is no cost to donors or their families for organ donation
- Michigan provides access to a donor registry so you can indicate donor decision
- Federal law prohibits buying and selling organs in the U.S. Violators are punishable by prison sentences and fines
Organ Donation and Transplantation: How Does it Work?
For more information or to sign up to be an organ donor visit http://www.organdonor.gov.