Kidney Transplant: Laura's Story

Laura and Jeff took part in a paired kidney exchange where Laura received a kidney from an anonymous living donor.Laura suffered from polycystic kidney disease, an inherited renal disease. This same disease took both her grandfather and mother.


When her illness began to progress quickly, her husband Jeff was tested for kidney donation, but was not a compatible donor. The couple, from Indiana, then looked to Wisconsin and UW Hospital and Clinics for help.


Laura had researched UW Health's outcome data and heard great things about the quality of the staff - from the surgeons to the nurses. In Laura's words, she found Wisconsin to be a "cheerleader for organ donation." This made the decision an easy one and the couple decided to take part in a paired kidney exchange.


In the past, a recipient candidate of an incompatible living donor had to wait for a deceased donor kidney. Through a national kidney exchange program, the UW Health Transplant Program offers options for patients who have a willing, but an incompatible, donor making it possible for them to receive a living donor kidney transplant.


The exchange program helps the deceased organ donor organ shortage by using organs from living donors who may otherwise be unable to donate, and helps patients who may have difficulty finding an appropriately-matched living donor. Thanks to an anonymous living donor, Laura received a new kidney. Her husband, in turn, donated a kidney to another stranger. In total, seven people participated in this kidney exchange that reached coast to coast.


Jeff was grateful Laura was able to maintain her quality-of-life, and not have to go through dialysis. Today they enjoy camping, antique car shows and volunteering for causes that raise awareness for polycystic kidney disease and organ donation.


"I want to be a voice for living donation and help people learn how important it is," said Laura.


She and her husband are proud to wear their Donate Life shirts, and to share their story.