PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In the Pacific Northwest there are more than 2000 people waiting for a kidney transplant. It took some “weld”-ers to help get the word out about living kidney donations.
A new group, Women Encouraging Living Donation (WELD), first organized last fall to promote living kidney donations. This local chapter meets every month to brainstorm how to get the word out — and sew cloth kidneys for people to wear at events.
They’ve walked in parades, attended a roller derby tournament, had a table at a street fair all in the effort to educate others about living donation.
For Hope Preston, it’s a chance to share her story to inspire others.
Preston, a non-directed donor, said she didn’t care who her kidney went to. “I didn’t have a family member or anyone else. I just said I’m willing to give a kidney, somebody needs it. And somebody did need it. Somebody always needs it.”
Everyday 17 people die waiting for a transplant. But instead of waiting for a kidney from a deceased donor, WELD says living kidney donations often work better and last longer.
Donors don’t need to be the same sex, ethnicity and it only leaves a small scar with little recovery time.
- There were 21, 167 kidney transplants in 2018. Only 6442 came from living donors
- A living donor helps 2 people: one who gets the organ, another on the waiting list
- If only 1 in 10,000 people became a living kidney donor, the kidney waiting list would be eliminated
- 97% of donors say they’d do it again if they could
In 2010 she read an article in a local paper about a living kidney donor. Later that summer she and her husband went to Yosemite.
“We wanted to climb Half Dome and we did climb Half Dome, and that was the hardest hike I’ve ever done,” she said. “I came down from Half Dome and I thought, darn it, if I can climb Half Dome I can give a kidney.”
She said she started a chain of 4 donations.
“So me being nobody special, not being a doctor, not being a policeman or a fireman, I was able to save 4 lives,” she told KOIN 6 News. “I can’t imagine doing anything more important in my life.”
Preston describes herself as extraordinarily lucky to be able “to make that sort of difference in so many lives. And the cost to me was 2 weeks out of work.”
And, she said, she’s received an outpouring of love from people she knows and works with at an area school.
“The parents just couldn’t get over it. One woman said ‘I know someone is suffering and I bake a cake and you gave them a kidney,'” she said, laughing.