Kadin, Recipient, 8-Years-Old & Free of Dialysis

Kadin_squareAt only 5 days old, Kadin had his first of many surgeries—one which made it possible to take him home for daily dialysis treatments—and ultimately keep him alive. At less than a year old, he received his first kidney transplant, a gift from his father. 

Unfortunately, this wasn’t his last.

Four years later, he displayed signs of rejection and was forced to resume dialysis treatments at the age of seven. More than a year later, he received a “second chance” and another kidney from his mom.  But during a routine clinic visit, he was admitted to the hospital with high blood pressure and immense pain. After only 21 days, Kadin lost his second kidney.

This was a major setback for Kadin and his family. He needed both physical and emotional healing to look ahead because the incredible fight wasn’t over. He soon received his third transplant from the mother of his best friend, Mason. Having known Kadin since he was five years old, it was something she knew she was called to do.

Though still in and out of the hospital since the transplant, Kadin is overjoyed to be free of dialysis treatments. No one knows what the future holds, but thanks to the unwavering support of loving friends and the extended National Kidney Foundation family, he and his family have been able to keep going.


Ed H., Recipient, Connected by their Sons, Ann Donates Life

Ed-Hrabe-2_squareWhen Ed was about 8 years old, he started getting severe back pains, only to discover that one of his kidneys had failed to develop. Eventually, the failed kidney was removed, and Ed lived with one kidney for the next 56 years.

In 2013, he learned that his one kidney was failing due to IGA Nephropathy, also known as Berger’s disease, where a kidney transplant or dialysis are the only hope for survival.

So, in late 2013, Ed started doing home dialysis that included four thirty-minute treatments each day. He also immediately went on the kidney transplant waiting list in hopes of getting a new kidney from a donor.

In February 2016, Ed’s donor came forward and was a perfect match – Ann, an acquaintance he had known for years as their sons graduated from high school together. Ann, Ed’s wife and other friends arranged a meeting with Ed three days before Valentine’s Day to deliver the news. Ann gave him a witty card that read:

“Roses are red, Violets are blue, lucky for us, I have two.
I only need one, so please work with me, as I’d like to re-gift you a healthy kidney.”

It also read “I can’t give you my heart, it’s already taken, but I can give you a kidney.”

The surgery was scheduled for Leap Day, February 29, 2016. Now, a year and a half later, Ann and Ed are both doing great. Since then, Ed has been able to reach out to other people in need of a transplant to give them hope and peer support.

David S., Donor, Helping a Stranger in Need

David_squareMarch 7th, 2016 was a proud day for David. He donated a kidney to someone in need. This wasn’t something he had on his bucket list. But after reading an article about his friend, Ed, needing a kidney, it made him think, “why don’t I go in to be tested?”

He contacted the hospital where his friend, Ed, was being seen and was cleared to donate a kidney six months later. However, it turned out that another friend of Ed’s also came forward to be tested. She was a better match and ended up being Ed’s donor.

It didn’t take long for David to decide to donate his spare kidney to a stranger. Sixteen months after the surgery, David is healthy and doing great.

His wife had also been tested as a donor in the past but was denied. David’s donation motivated her to get tested again, and this time, she was cleared to donate her spare kidney. They have the same attitude about living organ donation: They have two good kidneys, but only need one.

Christi K., Donor, A Friend and Hero for Matt

Christi K. fb
In October 2011, Christi’s friend Matt’s life was turned upside down when he found out that he was in kidney failure and needed to start dialysis immediately. She had a one-year-old daughter and was pregnant with her son when Matt received his diagnosis.

When Christi’s son was born, she and her husband decided that if Matt didn’t have a donor by the time their son was one, Christi would get tested. As their son’s first birthday got closer, Christi started the rigorous testing process to determine if she was a match. She did it quietly, concerned that others would think she was crazy. Why would a young mom voluntarily sign up for a surgery that has no obvious benefit to her own health?

But Christi and her husband strongly believed this was the right thing to do. So, in April 2013, she was able to change Matt’s life. Dialysis was keeping him alive, but a new kidney gave him a chance to really experience life again.

Now, four years after the surgery, Christi and Matt are both doing really well. In fact, Christi had another child since the surgery, and is completely healthy. She has never for a moment regretted donating her kidney to Matt.

Anthony G., Recipient, A High School Student Saved by His Brother

anthony_squareIt was fall 2011, and Anthony was entering his last year of high school. He was on the judo team which required daily practice, dieting, and traveling. Although he was getting better at judo, he couldn’t gain any weight or muscle. His body frame stayed the same and he was getting more fatigued at practice. There were also other physiological symptoms, such as frequent cramping at night, losing the ability to focus, and sleeping for long periods of time after school.

Soon after, he was admitted to the emergency room with a very high fever, severe stomach cramps and severely elevated blood pressure. He was very close to losing his life and was diagnosed with end stage renal failure, which was later confirmed to be caused by FSGS (focal segmental glomerulosclerosis).

Being a student athlete who had always avoided being in the hospital, the last thing Anthony expected was to have a debilitating disease. It was very challenging for him to return to school. He lost a lot of weight and became very weak, and it was difficult for him to concentrate. He even needed a cane to walk.

Anthony was placed at the top of the transplant wait list because of his age, but there was still a lot of uncertainty about what would happen or how long it would take to get a new kidney. His older sister Yenny and older brother Wilkis, who had a seven-year-old daughter and was awaiting the birth of his second child at the time, were both tested to be donors. They were both compatible, and Anthony received a kidney and a new life from Wilkis a few months later.

Thanks to this lifesaving gift, Anthony is living a normal life and working towards becoming a motivational speaker. He is particularly interested in sharing his story with teens that are going through similar experiences.

Ann S., Donor, Inspired by Ed’s Daughter, Melissa

ann-sletten-web-2_squareAnn had known about Ed’s health issues since her sons attended middle school with his son years earlier. But it wasn’t until the day before Thanksgiving 2015, after reading a Facebook post by Ed’s daughter Melissa, that a seed was planted in Ann’s heart. After many conversations with her husband and lots of prayer, she decided to offer Ed her kidney and submitted her name to be tested.

As a prospective donor, Ann went through a thorough medical testing process over the following few months and was approved to be a donor in February of 2017. Matching surgical suites were reserved for her and Ed at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. A few short days after the surgery, Ed went home with Ann’s kidney.

Ann said, “Donating a kidney is by far one of the best opportunities I’ve ever been given in this life. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I recovered quickly and now 18 months later, except for the small fading scars, you would not even know I donated my kidney.”

Ann and her husband thought the hardest part of the donation process might be telling their kids, but as it turned out, they had no reason to be anxious. All three of them were wonderfully supportive. By leaning on her faith, along with the love and support from her family and friends, Ann was carried through the amazing journey of kidney donation.

(Photo: Ann S. in second from right)

Andrea S., Recipient, A New Mom Thanks to Her Brother

Andrea-Greta-and-Pete-fb_squareAndrea was diagnosed with kidney disease when she was 17 as a senior in high school. Her kidneys were damaged by a virus called Henoch Schoenlin Purpura (HSP). With the help of her nephrologist, her chronic kidney disease was managed at Stage 3, with daily medication, for 10 years.

And then it wasn’t.

Her routine lab work came back elevated one spring and a biopsy confirmed that the HSP virus that had been dormant in her system for 10 years had woken up. The treatment playbook and medication cocktail that had been successful before couldn’t stop the damage this time, and over the course of six months, her kidneys failed.

She and her husband celebrated their first wedding anniversary that summer.

When her nephrologist mentioned transplant, she was stunned as she never thought she’d need one. But she was weak, fatigued and swollen and knew that transplantation was her only hope for renewed health and a future with her husband.

Her brother offered to give Andrea his kidney and it started working within seconds of being connected. 

Shortly after her transplant, she met a man named Terry who received his kidney in 1977. That’s forty years—four times longer than average. It turned out that Terry’s secret to keeping his kidney for so long was living a healthy life.

Thanks to Terry, Andrea now makes a daily commitment to herself and her donor brother: to live healthfully and gratefully. She is most grateful to be a mother.

Andrea and her husband welcomed their daughter in January 2017. She shares a middle name with her uncle, who saved her mom’s life and gave her a shot at the kind future she couldn’t envision until her transplant.

Alex F., Donor, Gave Darienne a New Life, Free of Dialysis


When Alex saw a certain Facebook post, he didn’t know it would change his life. It was a picture of Darienne, a young girl with special needs whose mom Melissa – a sister of Alex’s former high school classmate – wrote a heartfelt caption pleading for a kidney for her daughter.

It struck a chord with Alex. Inspired by his own special needs son, Karston, Alex decided to reach out to Melissa and let her know he was interested in becoming a living donor for her daughter.

“I try to do things every day that would make my son happy and proud,” he said. “When making my decision to donate, I thought ‘What if my son needed a kidney?’ I’d want someone to step up and do the same for him.”

But Alex also wanted to give Darienne a new life, free of dialysis.

He began the testing process at the University of Utah Hospital, only days after Darienne’s second family member willing to donate was excluded. So, when Alex learned he was not just a match, but a perfect match for Darienne, the phone call to Melissa was an emotional one. And although this wasn’t his own child or his milestone, there were tears.

The surgery took place in May 2016, and it’s been lifesaving for Darienne, now 16. A stranger before the fateful Facebook post, Alex is now “uncle Alex” and keeps up on Darienne’s progress. On the first anniversary of Darienne’s surgery, Melissa’s Facebook post listed things her daughter has been able to do this year:
  • Go on a cruise
  • Go to school with her peers
  • Spend more time with her family
  • Make friends at school
  • Visit Mexico!
  • Drink water!
  • Eat salt again
  • Build a strong relationship with uncle Alex!

“Helping a complete stranger is pretty awesome. There are so many people out there who need a donor,” Alex said.

Stop Judging Nonprofits Unfairly

By Shane Power, President of Watertree Health… 

It’s that time of year when nonprofits are most active in their fundraising efforts, and when the breadth and depth of their vital programs addressing social issues will be determined for the following year.  

This is also when people scrutinize the nonprofits to which they are considering giving their money and voice their opinion on social media. Many times, these posts are negative—unfairly so. Most commonly misjudged is the head of the nonprofit’s salary and the amount of money being spent on fundraising. Critics focus on (in my opinion, wrongly so) the percentage of donations that go to overhead.

Dan Pallotta in his TED Talk “The way we think about charity is dead wrong” offered very compelling reasons why this is so irrational, and how it actually goes against our desire to help address issues and change the world.

He notes, if you focus on spending less money on fundraising and more on programs, then you have no way to increase the money being spent on programs. If you can’t grow, nothing changes.

Dan also points out that you need to be able to use money to incent leaders away from the for-profit sector. These business people have the potential to help achieve great money and mission goals for nonprofits. He asks—“Why do we make people choose between doing well for yourself and your family or doing good for the world?” Why do we make it cheaper for someone to give significant money to a charity versus working for one?

In his talk, the following stat is cited to show the result of nonprofits not being “allowed” to do what they need to do to grow. From 1970 to 2009, the number of nonprofits that crossed the $50 million annual revenue barrier was 144 versus 46,136 in the for-profit sector during the same time period.

Social issues are massive in scale, but nonprofits often struggle to generate the growth needed to reach their ultimate goals.

The fundraising restrictions or less-appealing salary options for new leadership coming out of business school, for example, can hinder their opportunity for real change in the way they operate, and more importantly, in their tackling of problems not addressed by the government. Transparency in the nonprofit world is important, and websites like CharityNavigator.org and GuideStar.org provide this. However, I agree with Dan—instead of evaluating nonprofits by what they spend, let’s evaluate them on the goals and achievements they accomplish. By doing so, we would be helping (no longer hindering) these organizations that play such a critical role in our society.