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Loyola University Medical Center is a very giving place to work, so much so that within the past year, seven female employees donated their kidneys as part of the center’s Pay-It-Forward Kidney Transplant Program. The Pay-It-Forward Kidney Transplant Program begins when an altruistic living donor steps forward and offers to donate a kidney to a stranger, thereby beginning a chain. The donor’s kidney is then given to a compatible transplant candidate who has an incompatible donor, who in turn agrees to give a kidney to a third person with an incompatible donor. The chain can progress infinitely.
The transplants occur locally or across the country, depending upon need. Just in Illinois, the home state for Loyola, over 4,000 people await a kidney transplant. Two of the seven woman donated kidneys to people they were acquainted with, the other five women donate kidneys to complete strangers. Their donations sparked a chain that led to 28 transplants. All of the women met their recipients.
Their stories are different but all are inspiring. Jodi Tamen donated her kidney last April to a stranger, G. Murray Thomas of California. Thomas is a poet, and his new book, My Kidney Just Arrived, draws on his experience. Barbara Thomas donated her kidney last October to a tenant living in a building she owned. Jane Thomas gave hers to a stranger, Aaron Green, last August. Dorothy Jambrosek saw her kidney rushed to another Chicago-area hospital to help someone she’d never met last March. The other donors are Cynthia Lamb, who donated to a man she had never met, and Dr. Susan Hou, who donated her kidney to one of her patients. We often talk of helping others, most often with money or something more practical but these women made a sacrifice much larger. What will you do to help others?
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