Family Saves Relative's Life Three Times

By: Sabrina Wu
By: Sabrina Wu

When Donna Jorgenson's kidneys failed 11 years ago, her sister did not think twice about giving up one of hers. Recurrent kidney disease, however, sent her back to the hospital not once, but two more times.

"Her original kidney she lost because of high blood pressure," said Kathy Klockziem, who was the first to donate a kidney to her sister.

"Mine she lost because she got pregnant," Klockziem said. "She lost the kidney and she lost the baby."

Klockziem says out of six family members, she was the only one who matched Donna's O-positive blood type. She says it was amazing that her children also had the same blood type and could be suitable donors.

The second kidney came from Donna's niece. A rare blood disease attacked that one, however, causing her to become very sick in April. Her nephew David then gave her one of his kidneys in early November.

Doctors say both are doing fine after the surgery. The family says they shared their story in hopes that it would inspire others to consider donating organs. Right now more than 80,000 people are on a waiting list for a kidney in the U.S. Extended Web Coverage

Organ and Tissue Donors

Each day about 63 people receive an organ transplant, but another 16 people on the waiting list die because not enough organs are available.

Talk to your family members about organ and tissue donation so they know your wishes.

Organ Donation Frequently Asked Questions

Who can become a donor

  • All individuals can indicate their intent to donate (persons under 18 years of age must have parent's or guardian's consent).

Are there age limits for donors?

  • There are no age limitations on who can donate. The deciding factor on whether a person can donate is the person’s physical condition, not the person’s age.

  • Newborns as well as senior citizens have been organ donors.

How do I express my wishes to become an organ donor?

  • Indicate your intent to be an organ and tissue donor on your driver’s license.

  • Carry an organ donor card.

  • Most importantly, discuss your decision with family members and loved ones.

What can be donated?

  • Organs: heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver, and intestines

  • Tissue: cornea, skin, bone marrow, heart valves, and connective tissue

Are there any costs to my family for donation?

  • The donor’s family does not pay for the cost of the organ donation. All costs related to donation of organs and tissues are paid by the recipient, usually through insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.

How are the organ distributed?

  • Patients are matched to organs based on a number of factors including blood and tissue typing, medical urgency, time on the waiting list, and geographical location.

Current Waiting List – As of July 19, 2002

  • Kidney Transplant – 52,766
  • Liver Transplant - 17,543
  • Pancreas Transplant - 1,329
  • Intestine Transplant - 192
  • Heart Transplant - 4,134
  • Heart-Lung Transplant - 210
  • Lung Transplant - 3,782

Source: (U.S. Government Organ Donation Web site)

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