I was scanning through Facebook one night when a certain post caught my eye. It was written by a former classmate who had an extraordinary request. Her stepfather’s kidneys were failing. He was on dialysis and his name was added to the transplant waiting list at Nebraska Medicine. But at the age of 69, his chances of getting a kidney from a deceased donor were slim. His best option? A living-kidney transplant.
Family and friends were tested, but no one was a viable candidate. After reading the Facebook post, the first thing out of my mouth was, “what can I do?” Even though we had never met in our town of Hastings, Neb., I knew I needed to help Gary Golter. He was a husband, father and grandfather. His life needed to be extended for his family.
After contacting the transplant team at Nebraska Medicine, a number of tests were run. Turns out, I was a perfect candidate. The transplant was slated for Nov. 2, 2016. With my strong support system of friends, family and loved ones, I never once had cold feet. My kids were proud of me and happy that I was saving someone’s life. As a registered organ donor, I was always ready for the possibility of being a living donor.
These days, Gary and I are both doing great. The surgery was a success and our two families are now bonded forever. Even with one kidney, doctors tell me I’ll live a long, healthy life. I just can’t play any contact sports. At 50 years old, there goes my dream of becoming a professional boxer!
I was recently named a 2017 American Red Cross Heartland Heroes, A Centennial Celebration honoree. I’m not one for receiving accolades, so I plan to accept the award on behalf of all organ donors. Organ donation is one of the most selfless things a person or family can do for another. I’m grateful for the chance to be able to save Gary’s life.
For more information on becoming a living donor, visit Nebraska Medicine's website. To schedule an appointment with a kidney transplant specialist, call 800.922.0000.