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Kidney Transplant 40th Anniversary Surprise Party

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Posted 3/12/2015

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It was 1973. Darlene Miller's four kids thought there was a very real chance their mother would die. Her kidneys were failing, and her only chance for survival was a kidney transplant. "It was an experimental surgery at that time," recalls her son, Kevin. "I can remember my father talking about how expensive it was going to be, because it was really almost all out of pocket at that time." Flash forward 40 years, and Darlene is still very much alive. And the thing that's kept her that way is the kidney her brother, Leo, donated to her when kidney donation was still very much in its infancy. "All three of my mother's siblings were tested," says Kevin. "Her youngest brother, my uncle, Leo, was the best match. Apparently, he's been a very good match." To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the donation, friends and family members threw a surprise party for Darlene and her brother at El Bee's Mexican Restaurant. Relatives from across the country showed up for the event. Needless to say, Darlene was surprised. "This is so great," says Darlene. When I was 70, my brothers all came and surprised me too then, but I didn't expect this." Leo Arens says he was happy to be the donor and happy to see how well things have turned out. "The neat thing for me is that my sister got to see her kids graduate from high school," recalls Leo. "She got to see them get married and see the grandchildren. It's just phenomenal." For Darlene, the gift of life is one she'll always be incredibly grateful for. "I've had such a good life. I get to see all my children and grandchildren get married and I attend all the in-town games. It's been good." For her son, Kevin, it's been more than good. "If it hadn't been for the success of her kidney transplant 40 years ago, we would have lost her a long time ago."