Joy Julian

Living Donor

Let me begin with this: I'm just an ordinary person blessed with an extraordinary opportunity. Last October, I decided I wanted to be a living kidney donor. I didn’t have a recipient in mind. I filled out the questionnaire and was told I could proceed with medical testing. A couple weeks later, I came across Mike’s Facebook post looking for a living donor. I thought it was interesting, but I didn’t reach out. A couple days later, I went back to his post. I then noticed that Mike was registered with the same hospital I had filled that questionnaire out for. I sent him a message asking if he was still looking for a donor. He had several people testing, but no matches. I told him it wouldn’t hurt for me to try to be his match.

On January 16, I went to DC for a day full of testing. I was questioned a couple times with the “why would you donate your kidney to a stranger question” and I honestly had no clue how to answer. Every time it was asked I just shrugged and said, “if he needs it, why wouldn’t I give it?” In the weeks following, my test results started flowing in. They sent me for one final test, the crossmatch. This test consisted of both Mike and my blood being mixed together and spun in a vial. If antibodies were present, this was a positive crossmatch. If no antibodies were present, it was negative. We wanted the test to be negative. Four long days later, I got the call that I was Mike’s match. Mike cried. There is absolutely no better feeling than being able to tell someone you’re going to save their life.

We scheduled surgery for April 4th. A couple weeks later, we went to pre op, and had more tests ran. They also ran a second crossmatch to confirm we were still a match. One week before our scheduled surgery, Mike and I got the call that our crossmatch came back positive. This meant that Mike’s body had a higher chance of rejecting my kidney. We were both devastated. The surgeon explained to me that I could enter in the Paired Kidney Exchange. I told Mike I was going to do whatever it took to help him. Some people explained their concerns about the paired kidney exchange, but for Mike and was our only option. Mid July 2019, I explained to Mike that I was just physically and mentally ready for surgery. I asked him if it was okay if I proceeded with donation. He was on board with whatever I wanted to do. We both signed more paperwork for the advance donation. As a donor, this is extremely scary. I didn’t know how long it would take for Mike to get a match. The hospital was able to find me a match in just 4 days. So long story short, on August 6th I donated my kidney to a young man in Richmond Virginia. As of Thursday, he is doing amazing...and his body instantly accepted my kidney. On September 24, Mike received his second transplant and he is doing AMAZING.

We were complete strangers, but I didn’t have to think twice about saving his life.