March 31st, 2017
Maikki Nekton was 32 years old when she had a life-saving liver transplant, thanks to her good friend, Jenifer DeMattia, who donated a portion of her own liver to Maikki.
Prior to the transplant, Maikki worked as a clinical social worker in the Maryland school system and for nonprofit organizations. Jenifer was her co-worker, and they became fast friends. Long-distance running was a shared passion, with the two women participating in 10K races and half-marathons whenever possible.
In April 2014, while training, Maikki began experiencing pain in her right hip. It was diagnosed as a stress fracture, which doctors said was rare for someone so young. Read the rest of this entry »
January 5th, 2017
From the time he was 13 years old, Jairus “Matt” Pierce, battled kidney disease. By 2016, when he was 44, the disease had become debilitating. A shift commander for a fire department, Matt had been forced to take a light-duty assignment because of his medical condition. He required daily dialysis, and the only long-term solution was a life-saving kidney transplant.
Simply put, Matt needed a hero.
December 30th, 2016
The day before Norma “Kay” Orr was scheduled for a living donor kidney transplant at Mayo Clinic, she needed one more blood test. The Palm Coast, Florida, resident was in line to receive a kidney from her niece, Jamie.
Jamie Rogers had volunteered to be a living donor when she found out in early 2016 that her aunt would need a transplant. Kay’s kidneys had scarred due to glomerulosclerosis and interstitial fibrosis.
“I have been through some tough times in my life, and Kay and her husband were always there for me. I never gave it a second thought,” says Jamie, who drove from Robbinsville, North Carolina, for the procedure, which was scheduled for July 26, 2016, at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus.
“Jamie and I have always been very close,” says Kay. “As soon as she heard I needed a transplant, she said ‘I want to be the one.’ And that was great, since none of my four children could be the donor.”
October 26th, 2016
When Dawn Odenthal sat down for a meeting with her colleague Jolinda Conzemius in June 2014, organ donation was nowhere on her radar. The two women knew one another through their work at a company that specializes in school photography, yearbooks, church directories and other forms of memory preservation. Dawn is a regional sales director, and Jolinda is a photographer. They were meeting to talk about a project they had been assigned to work on together.
By the time they got up from the table that afternoon, however, they had started a process that would culminate in Dawn donating one of her kidneys to Jolinda for a life-altering kidney transplant at Mayo Clinic.
“I absolutely wanted to do this for her,” says Dawn. “There wasn’t a question in my mind.” Read the rest of this entry »
October 19th, 2016
The email from a parent at her school in May 2013 took Nancy Shaver, an elementary school principal, by surprise. It was from Kati Walker, mother of two, who was on a mission: to donate one of her kidneys to Nancy, who greatly needed one.
Kati's message announced, "I'm going to be tested to be a kidney donor." Nancy, in her characteristic unassuming manner, replied, "Oh, how nice for someone!" Kati quickly replied, "No, it's for you, silly!"
Kati knew Nancy only as the principal at her children’s school. Nancy knew Kati as a parent and active volunteer. But their email exchange launched a journey to a life-saving kidney transplant for Nancy and a bond between the two women that they attest will last a lifetime. Read the rest of this entry »
September 24th, 2016
Bryan Duncan didn’t think twice about the lab tests he had as part of a routine medical checkup in the fall of 2014. A 29-year-old father of two small children, Bryan led a busy life, didn’t have any health problems, and felt fine.
When the test results came back, though, they showed enzyme levels in Bryan’s liver were higher than normal. This unexpected finding kicked off more than two years of extensive medical care. It brought Bryan from his hometown of Mountain View, Arkansas, to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus, where he was diagnosed with a rare liver disease, and where he eventually received a life-saving living-donor liver transplant.
“The way my disease works, if I had waited for a deceased donor, I probably would have been too sick for a transplant,” Bryan says. “Being able to have a living-donor transplant opened up the opportunity for me to get the second chance I needed.” Read the rest of this entry »
August 31st, 2015
At 27 weeks into her pregnancy with twins, Amber Sylvester went to Mayo Clinic with her husband, Mike, for an ultrasound test and received news that no parent wants to hear. One of the babies was in trouble. She had enlarged kidneys, no amniotic fluid around her body, and fluid in her abdomen. She would likely not survive until birth. Even if she did survive, doctors said she would likely not live long enough to receive a transplant.
Amber remembers that appointment clearly. “The tech asked me if my water broke,” she says. “When I saw the concern on her face, I knew that something was not right. All I can remember is crying hysterically.” Read the rest of this entry »
August 13th, 2015
As an endurance athlete who has completed six Ironman triathlons and more than two dozen marathons, Michael Koetting does not fear physical challenges. So when he learned he could use his good health to help a stranger in need, he never hesitated. Read the rest of this entry »
August 14th, 2014
Todd Goldrick was living the dream. Good job. Loving wife. Two young, healthy kids. Weekends spent playing golf, softball, kayaking, hiking, running or just hanging around home with the family. But that changed suddenly in 2010, when he and his wife simply tried to buy some life insurance. He was just 28.
"Mine came back straight out denied," Todd says. "They told me the reasons. There was a whole long list -- high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a few other things that I don't remember exactly."
Before that day, Todd says he'd been to see his doctor in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area "maybe every two years," so the policy denial came of left field. In fact, he says it scared him into doing nothing about it, at least initially. "I was kind of naïve and a little scared to go back to the doctor," he says. "So I didn't do anything."
Six months later, he got a sinus infection that wouldn't go away, and eventually he went to urgent care, where some flags were raised unrelated to his sinuses. "They took my blood pressure, and it was 200 over 120," he says. "At that point, they told me I needed to go to the ER." Read the rest of this entry »