Inspiration Report

payne-sullivan.jpgWe received this encouraging story about a woman who decided to donate a kidney in order to make a difference in someone’s life.  The following is a condensed and edited version of the story, featured with permission of the National Kidney Foundation Transplant Games.

Last February, Judy Payne of McLean, Virginia read an article in the Washington Post about kidney donation. At 59-years-old, Judy was a 12-time marathon runner who wanted to find ways to give back. Organ donation was one way to bring about positive change, but Judy loved to run long distances and couldn’t imagine giving that up. Judy found a page of testimonials from kidney donors on the web and emailed a donor, Father Pat Sullivan, to ask how he was doing years after kidney donation.

Father Sullivan responded to say he’d ran a marathon after his donation to stay healthy. He also shared that the need for organs was higher than ever, but volunteer donors were few. Judy learned there were close to 85,000 patients on waiting lists for kidneys and close to 108,000 waiting for vital organs. She also learned that living with one kidney would not stop her from running. Soon she decided to sign up to be screened as a donor. Initially, her family was not supportive. After all, she had hypertension which could lead to kidney failure. She began to pull out as a candidate but was told that she was still a great donor despite hypertension. Eventually, she was accepted as a donor and she donated one of her kidneys in late September 2009 to a stranger. The surgery was relatively painless and left her tired but, five weeks later, she was taking brisk hour-long walks.

Since then, Payne and her virtual donor buddy, Father Sullivan, have stayed in touch. The two have plans to compete in the 5K together at the National Kidney Foundation U.S. Transplant Games in Madison, Wisconsin this summer. The event will draw together thousands of transplant recipients, living donors, and families of deceased donors who will celebrate life and showcase the power of organ donation through athletics. For both Judy and Father Pat, the Transplant Games are a great opportunity to demonstrate that a healthy life is possible after donation. The Games are also a great chance for donors to get together to share and celebrate their experience.

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