Lisa VenVertloh, a Senior ERP analyst for ITS, and her husband Rick were recently featured in the Democrat & Chronicle for their successful story of paired organ donation. A paired donation is just what it sounds like – a donor-recipient pair is matched with another donor-recipient pair that the donors are able to give an organ to the recipient of the other pair.

Rick had suffered from an inherited disease called polycystic kidney disease. His kidney function had decreased to the point that by January of 2013 he was able to be placed on the waiting list for a kidney. Lisa was interested in donating to her husband, but her blood type was not a match. The doctor asked her if she would be interested in donating to stranger and Lisa said yes.

In January of 2014, Lisa and Rick were placed on the paired donations list. It took about eight weeks to find their match. Lisa explained that they were part of a four-way donation. Her kidney went to a recipient in Madison, Wisconsin and her husband’s new kidney came from New York City. All four pairs of surgery happened on the same day.

“A misconception is that your donor needs to be physically with you for the donation to happen. Now with paired donation, as long as you have a match from anywhere in the country, you can have the donation,” Lisa explained.

In Rick’s operation, the surgeons added the new kidney and did not take either of the old ones out. Lisa remarked how wild it was to see her husband feeling so much better when returning home from the hospital. “I was very tired, I was going to bed around 9:00 while he was up until one in the morning because he had so much energy after being fatigued for so long,” she remembered.

Anyone can be an organ donor. You may never have a personal experience with it like Lisa did, but your signing up can still be a gift to somebody and their family.

It’s easy to register. You can do it right at organdonor.gov or when renewing your license at the DMV.

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