Living Kidney Donation: Sheri's Story

Sheri and her husband married just two months after she donated a kidney to her brother via the "belly-button" procedure.

Still Rockin' That Bikini


Sheri Rice does not want anyone to put her on a pedestal for donating a kidney to her older brother. Simply put, she did it because she could - and she would do it again. "If I could have given him my feet, I would," says Sheri, who lives in Fitchburg, Wis.


Sheri's brother had been ill for many years and needed to go on dialysis two years ago. She had always told him she wanted to give him one of her kidneys. When the time was right, they talked to staff at the UW Health Transplant Program to find a date that would work with both of their schedules. "We literally scheduled it like we were scheduling lunch," says Sheri.


After going through extensive testing and review, Sheri and her brother underwent surgery in March 2014. Sheri and her surgeon, Tony D'Alessandro, MD, decided a single-port (belly-button) nephrectomy would be the best option for her. During the procedure, Dr. D'Alessandro made a 4- to 6-inch incision straight through the middle of the belly button, unfolded it and put a port behind it. He inserted all the instruments through the port and pulled the kidney out.


For Sheri, 46, the belly-button procedure was exactly the right choice. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you I had surgery, because I have no scar to prove it," she says. She even wore a bikini on her honeymoon just two months after the procedure.


Both brother and sister are doing well post-surgery. Sheri's brother was back at his job in six weeks and is now the proud owner of a functioning kidney. Sheri, who worked with a mentor through UW Health's Transplant Mentor Program, is happy to have given the gift of life and watch her brother return to activities he enjoys.


"The whole experience was really life-changing," she says. "We’re so lucky to have world-class health care right here in town."