PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Citing the desire to give the gift of life to a person in need, Oregon State Representative Tiffiny Mitchell is planning to become a living kidney donor.
Mitchell, a Democrat representing House District 32 of Astoria, said she had a close family friend who needed a kidney transplant. Though Mitchell wasn’t a good match for her friend, she felt an emotional connection to the idea of helping someone through living donation.
Mitchell said she is “incredibly excited” to be a living donor.
“I went through this mental process of realizing I was about to give my kidney to someone I knew and cared about and didn’t want to suffer with kidney disease,” she said. “Why wouldn’t I be willing to do that for someone else knowing there’s someone else out there going through those same issues?”
Mitchell is part of a “non-directed paired donation,” which she said is a concept developed by an economist where a person enters the system altruistically.
“Your organ will go to a recipient and if that person also has a person who is willing to donate an organ but, say, they don’t match their intended recipient, their organ can then go to somebody else if they’ve already committed to that donation.”
In this case, her kidney will go to Pennsylvania, but the Pennsylvania’s donor’s organ will go to someone in Minnesota — and then a Minnesota donor would do the same.
“So 3 people are going to be getting an organ out of this exchange,” Mitchell said.
The United Network for Organ Sharing reports nearly 113,000 people are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants across the country. Around 890 are waiting in Oregon, alone.
The lawmaker also helped pass the Living Donor Protection Act in Oregon which provides job security for people considering organ donation. The act protects the procedure under the state’s Family Medical Leave Act.
Mitchell plans to take it further, too. She plans to push to have living donation qualify for the state’s new Paid Family Medical Leave legislation.
“It simply protects somebody’s job while they’re going through living organ donation but they don’t have any compensation associated with that,” she said. That’s why she wants to “see living donation be a qualifying reason that someone could take” Oregon’s Family Medical Leave Act.
Now, she said, she’s ready to move forward with the surgery in October. Recovery time will be 4-6 weeks.
Tiffiny Mitchell doesn’t know anything about her recipient. “I’m hopeful sometime in the future I will get to meet them.”
“I think about it all the time,” Mitchell said. “But at the same time knowing who they are is less of a concern to me than knowing that someone is going to have that second chance.”