Living Kidney Donor Says She'd Do it Again

Wanda McQuillan is a living kidney donor

After giving the gift of life as a living kidney donor early in 2017, Wanda McQuillan only has one regret — she wishes she had more kidneys so she could donate them again and again.


Wanda, 64, a medical technologist at a hospital in Dixon, Illinois, has always been a steadfast blood donor, regularly giving double units of blood. But she never knew she could be a kidney donor as well, until she saw on Facebook that her husband’s second cousin was on dialysis and looking for a kidney. “I figured if I could do it, why not?” she says.


In July 2016, Wanda traveled to University Hospital in Madison to undergo extensive testing. While she was there, the transplant surgeons helped her understand that as a living kidney donor, keeping her safe and healthy would be their top priority. When she learned she was not a match for her intended recipient she was disappointed, but quickly agreed to be part of a paired kidney exchange, during which Wanda’s kidney would go to a stranger and her relative would receive a kidney from another stranger.


As can happen with kidney chains, this exchange didn’t go exactly as planned: Wanda’s relative received her kidney on January 31, 2017, but Wanda was unable to donate on that day because her intended recipient became sick. She became part of another kidney chain, but that recipient was sick, too, so she finally donated her kidney to a third recipient on February 14, 2017.


“The surgery was a piece of cake,” she says. “The staff at University Hospital made me feel so comfortable. I didn’t have a care in the world. I only had to take Tylenol for the pain, I went home in 48 hours, and I only experienced fatigue and slight to moderate pain over the next two weeks.”


Now, Wanda is a major advocate for organ donation, both living and deceased. “If I had extra kidneys, I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” she says.