Adventures of a Kidney Donor

March 29, 2010

Kiersten and Theresa’s Story


I work with a fun gal named Kiersten who has polycystic kidney disease like Jackie.  In 2003 her best friend Theresa gave her a kidney. Kiersten has done very well with her transplant and has a great outlook on the whole thing. This is their story which speaks for itself. I removed some details for their privacy but this article ran in our local paper:


Theresa said she never thought twice about donating a kidney to her best friend.

Theresa  and Kiersten, both 33, have been close friends for more than 25 years.

They have been there for each other through good times and bad since they met in grade school.

“She helped me learn about unconditional love,” Theresa said of Kiersten.

So when Theresa… found out she could donate the kidney Kiersten has been awaiting for more than five years, there was no hesitation.

“This is something I can do and still be around to see the benefits,” she said. “I can live with one kidney.”

Kiersten was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease in 1997.

The disease is characterized by the growth of fluid-filled cysts on the kidneys that reduce the organs’ function and can lead to kidney failure.

“When I first found out I had it, I had 27 percent kidney function,” Kiersten said. “The specialist put me on the list for a kidney donation because she knew things would keep getting worse.”

Last August, with her kidney function down to 4 percent, Kiersten started on home dialysis.

“I’ve never had a cyst burst or felt ill,” Kiersten said. “The only symptom I’ve had is that I’m tired, but not abnormally so. I’ve worked 40 hours a week as long as I can remember and I don’t see any reason not to do normal everyday things.”

Without the transplant, however, her ability to lead a normal life likely would be affected eventually.

There was hope when it was learned Kiersten’s husband, Michael, whom she married two years ago, had the same blood type, but further tests showed his kidney would not be a match for her.

That’s when Theresa agreed to be tested.

“I was familiar with transplants because my father had a liver transplant in 1998,” Theresa said. “But I didn’t know that a person who was not blood-related could donate a kidney until Mike was tested.”

Last November they got the news that Theresa could be the donor. Surgery is scheduled for Monday at the University of Michigan Hospital.

“If I could do this for her I wouldn’t think twice about it and, from her reaction, that’s the way she felt, too,” Kiersten said. “She’s just doing what she felt was needed.”

Theresa ‘s family moved…but the 45-mile distance between them didn’t dull the friendship.

While they say they have seldom argued, there is one big area of disagreement. Kiersten is a Michigan State University fan while Theresa favors the University of Michigan.

“She was a Spartan fan until she moved…” Kiersten said. “I think they brainwashed her down there.”

Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation


  1. This story has always been very inspiring to me. It’s amazing what friendship can do.

    Comment by jacqsworld — March 31, 2010 @ 10:07 pm |Reply

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    Comment by Czarcieswawole — August 7, 2013 @ 7:00 am |Reply

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