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American Family Children's Hospital

2017 Transplant and Organ Donation Calendar: John Babbitt

Kidney transplant recipient John BabbittJohn Babbitt, 55, spent nearly a decade of his life battling life-threatening diseases before finally receiving the gift of life in February 2016.


First, the Dyer, Ind., man was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007. Then, he learned he had kidney cancer in 2008 and had to have his left kidney and part of his right kidney removed. He underwent several different chemotherapy treatments between 2008 and 2013, and by the end of that time, he had no kidneys left. He needed to have dialysis three times a week.


"That was a hard time for me, going without kidneys," he says.


He talked to a transplant center in Illinois, where he learned he would need to wait four to five years for a kidney from a deceased donor. Then, he heard the UW Health Transplant Center had a short waitlist, so he drove to Madison. Physicians there told him a living donor would be his best chance at the gift of life.


Joyce Doty, who attended the same church as he did, initially offered her kidney to him, but he refused, not wanting to endanger a single mother. Two years later, after his wife, Murrell, started a "kidney campaign" to find a living donor, Joyce volunteered her kidney again. He was at dialysis, reading a book called "Listening to God," when Murrell called to give him the news. "I just knew that God was telling me Joyce was going to be my donor," says John.


John and Joyce participated in a three-way paired kidney exchange at UW Health, meaning Joyce - who is a universal donor - donated her kidney to a stranger, and John received a kidney from a stranger. John's recovery has been excellent, he says. "My faith in God helped me through this hard time," he says. "I try to share it with others who are going through issues with their health. I tell them that you never give up hope."


Read Joyce Doty's Story

Read about the kidney exchange