On Sunday, kidney transplant recipients had a memorable reunion with their donors thanks to medical officials from the University Medical Center in the central Las Vegas Valley.
During the reunion, donors like Karen Gerard reflected on their gifts of life.
“Doesn’t matter of its one hour, 20 years, 30 years,” said Gerard. “Even if she only had one hour to feel normal again, it was worth it.”
Normally people don’t get emotional while breaking bread, but Sunday’s luncheon wasn’t the typical reception.
"We’re having a celebration of life,” said Dr. John Ham, UMC transplant medical director. “We wanted to recognize our living donors who donate a kidney to their loved ones or sometimes even strangers.”
Ham said it’s important to recognize donors because they’re truly helping to restore life.
"Every time I put a kidney in, it’s just an amazing little miracle to watch,” said Ham. “Sometimes even when I put it in, I put the blood vessels back together and let the blood flow into the kidney. It starts making undone on the table.”
Eleven years ago, that is something Kimberly Picard wasn’t sure would happen.
"I wound up with an autoimmune disease,” said Picard. “It attacked the kidney, and went downhill from there.”
Picard kept her diagnosis a secret from her family for a while and stuck to dialysis, but then the diagnosis slipped out. She didn’t have to look too far for a donor. Her sister, Karen, stepped up.
“It’s been two years now,” said Gerrard. “Everything’s been perfect. We couldn’t have been a better match unless we were twins.”
The meet-up wasn’t just reconnecting donors to their recipients. It also gave out hope for new transplant recipients.
"I’m only two years out,” said Picard. “To hear people 11 years out, 20 years out, you’re like, ‘Yes!’ because you look at the statistics and they're like this is just a Band-aid.”
Which also reminded donors how important their gift of life really is.
"This is what I was meant to do,” said Gerrard. “There was never any question.”
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