Living Kidney Donation: Larry's Story
While Larry Haas of Waunakee, Wisconsin, 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 (he has a congenital disease that causes kidney problems) 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.
Ultimately, Kevin became part of a 10-person kidney transplant chain in which his brother donated on his behalf. But Larry was still passionate about helping his friend’s son, so he continued with his testing process — unbeknownst to the Andersons. UW Health Transplant Program staff told him he could “bank” a kidney for Kevin through their voucher program, so that in the event he needs a fifth kidney transplant, he would get one by using his voucher. In the meantime, Larry’s kidney would go to someone else in need. Larry agreed and set his surgery date for November 14, 2017 — but he didn’t tell Kevin’s family.
In a serendipitous twist, Larry was at University Hospital for his surgery the same day Kevin was hospitalized due to complications from his kidney transplant. Kevin’s mom, Kay, walked past Larry’s door and saw the name “Haas,” but she didn’t even think about the fact that she knew someone with that name. She and her family did, however, learn that someone had banked a kidney for Kevin. It wasn’t until a mutual friend told Kay that Larry had donated a kidney that she put the pieces of the puzzle together. “It was the most wonderful gift in the world,” she says. “It takes such a burden off us. Kevin knows he will have a donor and won’t have to be on dialysis.”
For Larry’s part, he’s glad to have helped not just one, but two people. “I feel good about it, but it wasn’t about me,” he says. “It’s never been about me. It’s about trying to help Kevin and somebody else who needed a kidney.”