The stories we all hear about when it comes to kidney transplants are typically about the kidney recipient. Though it is amazing the kidney recipient received the life giving kidney and survived the successful transplant surgery, little is often told about the unselfish and amazing living kidney donors that provided the life giving kidney; these living angels are the true “heroes” of every successful living kidney transplant.

Living hero kidney donors live a normal life with only one kidney since we really only need one kidney to be 100% healthy. It has been documented that living kidney donors live as long, if not longer, than a person with two kidneys who had not donated.

I have personally spoke with many hero kidney donors and realized they all had something in common: each is elated and proud to have saved a life (including the lives of those they did not know before the transplant) and are euphoric knowing that the people they have saved are not only thriving, but paying the selfless act forward. The gift of giving life to others had an amazing effect on the kidney donors themselves knowing all their kidney recipients and their families are now blessed all from one Hero’s selfless act to kindly help another good human being.

Jack Zita, Hero

Jack Zita

Age: 59
Age at time of kidney donation: 58 (about one year ago)

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Frank Woolsey

Frank Woolsey

Age: 66
Age at time of kidney donation: 63

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Tiana Watson

Age: 38
Age at time of kidney donation: 25

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Jack Zita

1. Why did you decide to donate a kidney?

A friend needed it.

2. Can you share your thoughts on the testing to become a donor? Was it difficult?

It was not difficult at all. For me, it was an easy decision. I felt that it was a calling. I had a chance to prove my obedience to my God, who (I believe) called me to do it. I surrendered. I knew He would take care of everything and He did! If there was ever a doubt that it could happen, it was because I wasn’t sure I was healthy enough to be a donor. Although I felt well. After I qualified, having passed the physical (and mental) evaluation, I felt more certain that God’s hands were at work. He made sure that I had no reason not to proceed.

3. How was the recovery from donor surgery?

I was advised that the normal recovery time was 6 to 8 weeks. I went back to work on a limited basis after 4 weeks.

4. Would you recommend someone to be a donor?

Definitely! Besides saving a life, it is morally and spiritually rewarding. It is the best accomplishment of my life.

5. How do you think we can get more people to become heroes and be a living donor?

By encouraging people and showing them how easy and rewarding it is. If you’re doing it for the right reason(s), there is nothing to fear!

6. What advice to you have to a potential donor?

Focus on the success and not on the pain. Do not be dissuaded once you’ve made up your mind. The hardest questions you have are the ones you do not ask. Talk to people who have done it, ask questions! If they can do it, you can too!

Frank Woolsey

1. Why did you decide to donate a kidney?

My wife needed a kidney, so I donated in advance so she could get a kidney when she needed it. Amazingly she eventually received a living kidney donation from another living donor, so my donation was considered “good will” or altruistic for another recipient who is doing very well. I feel good knowing I helped a person become healthy and go on to have children – even though I originally donated to help my wife.

2. Can you share your thoughts on the testing to become a donor? Was it difficult?

Becoming a donor was not that difficult – some questions and medical tests, just a process.

3. How was the recovery from donor surgery?

I had some pain but not much in my shoulders from the procedure from compressed air they used to make the surgery easier. My shoulders were in pain from the air being pushed up to the shoulders and lasted 2 days.

4. Would you recommend someone to be a donor?

Yes, in fact I went in for the surgery to remove my extra donor kidney early in the week and was out of the hospital by Thursday and was perfectly fine. I took several weeks off of work, though I didn’t really need to.

Tiana Watson

1. Why did you decide to donate a kidney?

I was a waitress in a local restaurant when I saw an article in the newspaper about Dan, a patron who frequented the restaurant who I barely knew. I went home from my shift, went online and did as much research as I could. The procedure was relatively safe, so I called the number in the paper and reached Don’s parents who were very happy to hear I would offer my kidney to him.

2. Can you share your thoughts on the testing to become a donor? Was it difficult?

No. Testing was relatively straight forward and consisted of a typical EKG, standard tests, lots of questions about my past health, and a full mental evaluation to make sure I was of sound mind.

3. How was the recovery from donor surgery?

No problems. In fact, it went so well I was in the hospital all of two days, and my recipient Dan was in for surgery and out in four days.

4. Would you recommend someone to be a donor?

I would highly recommend it as extremely rewarding. While I had not thought of it originally, I had set a goal in my life of helping someone out who needed it. It’s on my bucket list. Since I donated the extra kidney I didn’t need, I have lived a very productive life with two wonderful children I had post-surgery and my husband. To make it even more special, I was able to save Dan’s life and he now has a wonderful son and a great family and is living a very happy and productive life. So I feel a real sense of accomplishment that I was able to help him continue to thrive and manifest that positive energy and life through to him and his entire family.

5. How do you think we can get more people to become heroes and be a living donor?

BI believe sharing all the positive successful stories like mine and my recipients and many others who have also helped others unselfishly on Facebook and other social media outlets showing by example that they too can successfully donate and change someone’s life.

6. What advice do you have to a potential donor?

Do research for yourself and you will find the procedure of donating a kidney is safe and the recovery is very manageable.