Living Kidney Patient Stories

Don Richards and his daughter Jeri

Following are just a few of the many stories shared by generous living kidney donors and grateful kidney recipients.


Living Kidney Donor: Don and Jeri's Story


Thirty-three years ago, Don Richards voluntarily underwent major surgery at University Hospital in Madison. He was perfectly healthy, but the surgery wasn't for him — it was for his daughter, Jeri, who needed a kidney transplant. Now 92-years-old, Don encourages everyone to consider being a living donor.


Read Don and Jeri's story



More Living Kidney Donation Stories


 Robert Gudea, Living Kidney Donor

Robert's Story: Living Kidney Donor


When friends and acquaintances ask Robert Gudea why he decided to donate one of his kidneys to a stranger, he is momentarily stumped. “The ‘why’ question never occurred to me,” he says. “Somebody needed help, and I was in a position where I could help. There’s no explanation for it.”


 Colleen Piaskowski, Living kidney donor

Colleen's Story: Living Kidney Donor


Colleen Piaskowski has always been afraid of needles. She can’t stand the idea of a sharp object pricking her skin — and the anticipation of pain that goes along with it. Yet for the past 10 years, she has been a regular blood donor, and in April 2018 she became an altruistic kidney donor.


 Larry Haas, Living Kidney Donor

Larry's Story: Living Kidney Donor 


While Larry Haas has always been a registered organ donor, he never even considered becoming a living donor until a chance meeting with his former co-worker, Keith Anderson. The two came upon each other in a grocery store and Keith shared that his stepson, Kevin, needed his fourth kidney transplant and they were looking for a living donor. Larry offered to be tested at University Hospital to see if he was a match, and Keith gratefully accepted.


 Amy Beaman, living kidney recipient

Amy: Living Kidney Recipient


After receiving kidneys from both of her parents, Amy Beaman (pictured right) vowed she would protect her body from any more trauma. She and her husband, Chip, wanted to expand their family, so they researched adoption options. In October 2005, they learned they had been matched with a child. But just before they were about to go out to celebrate, Amy’s doctor called and informed her that she was pregnant. Suddenly, their family’s carefully laid-out plans changed.


Justin Mandeville

Kim and Justin: Living Kidney Donor and Pediatric Recipient


Justin Mandeville has suffered from kidney problems since he was a toddler. He spent much of his time at American Family Children’s Hospital, and when he was 6 years old, doctors needed to remove his kidneys to save his life. He spent the next six years on dialysis. His mother, Jen, says the dialysis was a godsend, but it was still only a temporary solution—he needed a kidney transplant.

Bill McKenzie and Julie Underwood

Bill and Julie: Living Kidney Donor and Recipient


Bill McKenzie and Julie Underwood have been the best of friends for more than three decades. They first met before either of them lived in Wisconsin. Bill learned he suffered from end-stage kidney failure, and by 2010, he needed a new kidney. Julie didn’t hesitate, and said she would be happy to donate. Unfortunately, she was not a good match for him. The two would need to explore other options so that Julie could still provide Bill with the gift of life.

Heidi and Scott Badar

Heidi: Living Kidney Donor


As her husband's health continued to deteriorate, Heidi decided to take matters into her own hands. She decided to donate her kidney and in the process, learned to just "get out of the way." And now, in her words, she and her husband Scott are living examples of all the cliches and they couldn't be happier.

John Babbitt

Joyce and John: Kidney Exchange


After undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, John learned he had kidney cancer and had to have his left kidney and part of his right kidney removed. He was told he would have to wait four to five years for a kidney from a deceased donor. That's when he decided to go to the UW Health Transplant Center for a living donation. Although Joyce, a member of the same church as John, had offered her kidney on a previous occasion, it took a little divine intervention to help make it a reality.



Brigitt Capps

Joyce, Tami, Teresa, Roger, Brigitt and John: Kidney Exchange


When Brigitt Capps (pictured) donated her kidney to her father, they were two of six people participating in a 'round-robin' kidney exchange that included individuals from Indiana and Wisconsin.




Joe Herr

Joe: Living Kidney Donor


Joe Herr may well be Madison's unofficial leprechaun. He makes appearances on St. Patrick's Day at local parades and busniesses, and even on visits to American Family Children's Hospital, a place near and dear to thim. He works to bring smiles to the faces of children and their families, because he knows what it is like to go through challenging times.



Ivette and Brenda were part of a shared kidney exchange

Ivette and Brenda: Living Kidney Donor and Recipient


Being a part of a paired kidney exchange connected sisters in Wisconsin and Arizona and also helped five other people across the country receive new kidneys.



A paired kidney exchange connected four people who changed each other's lives

Lisa, Michelle, Susan and Tim: Kidney Exchange


When Lisa Moore from Wisconsin read an article about a woman who donated a kidney to help a stranger, she thought "I could do that." Her courage began a paired kidney exchange that would connect four people and save two lives.



Jill, Lonnie and Sara were all affected through a life saving donation

Jill, Lonnie and Sara: Living Kidney Donor and Recipients


When Jill Dillon, an optometrist at Marshfield Clinic, decided to become a living donor to help her longtime patient Lonnie Jelinski, she couldn't have imagined the ripple effect of her decision.




Share Your Story


If you’ve personally experienced an organ transplant or are a living donor, you can assist others by sharing your story. Learn how