Living donation is a remarkable gift. The Gifted Life Podcast is excited to share a story about lives saved.
Read a special guest blog from LSU Manship School of Communications graduate, Margaret McKowen.
My sister Elisabeth is the strongest person I have ever met in my life.
At a very young age, she was diagnosed with a rare disease called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. Elisabeth has always been the glue that held my siblings and I together. Therefore, when the oldest of seven children was diagnosed, it sent shock waves through my entire family.
Even though I was very young when Elisabeth was diagnosed, I still was able to know and understand the magnitude of her sickness. Each and every family member and I felt helpless. However, Elisabeth had an amazingly positive attitude. She knew that she could conquer her diagnosis and live the life that she had always dreamed of. Eight years before her kidney transplant, she was still able to move from Birmingham, Alabama to Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her now husband, Field LaMotte. During her time in Wisconsin, she had each of her hips replaced. Shortly after, Elisabeth and Field finally moved back to Louisiana but her health started to decline. Finally, her doctors at Tulane Medical Center approved Elisabeth to have a kidney transplant and she was placed on the waitlist.
By the Grace of God, another couple in Louisiana was dealing with a very similar situation as well. However, the wife of the patient wasn’t a perfect match for her husband. Once the couple began to discuss with the doctors at Tulane Medical Center, they were given an alternate choice.
The wife was a perfect match for Elisabeth and Field was a perfect match for the husband.
Thankfully, both couples agreed and moved forward to have the life saving operation. During the time of the operation, each couple and their families had to be separated. It was not until a year later that Elisabeth and Field could meet the couple that helped saved my sister’s life. My family and I will forever be thankful that God allowed for the Louisiana couple to selflessly exchange kidneys with my sister and brother-in-law. Also, my family and I will forever be thankful for my brother-in-law who helped my sister during the entire journey. In Milwaukee, Field was Elisabeth’s 24/7 caregiver. Elisabeth would not be as healthy as she is today without Field.
After the kidney transplant, Elisabeth returned to the hospital and was made aware that her disease had spread to her new kidney. For eight days, she underwent a plasma exchange and eventually received outpatient treatment. Thankfully, the treatment slowed the disease and Elisabeth was able to move forward with her life. Elisabeth and Field still live in Welsh, Louisiana. They now have a beautiful son who is fascinated by their crawfish farm and loves to play with their three cats and two dogs. Also, their son loves to take his afternoon naps in the tractor while his father works.
Without the paired kidney exchange, Elisabeth’s life would not be where it is today. More importantly, none of our lives would be where they are today.
Listening to Episode #87 of ‘The Gifted Life’ brought back so many memories. I appreciate the fact that The Gifted Life chose to highlight that organ donation is a GIFT! It is a beautiful and selfless act that any living donor could do for a stranger and their family. The living donor, Jennifer David, is an inspiration to all. She is a valuable asset in saving more lives. More importantly, her donation has inspired others to trust and believe in the educational process of organ donation.
Written by Margaret McKowen - LSU Graduate - Manship School of Mass Communications