2016 Float Walker Honorees
Meet the inspiring living donors.
While many might be motivated to donate a kidney to a friend or relative in need, to Dawn the suffering of strangers is just as real. Dawn made the decision to donate simply to help someone else, with the hope that a member of her recipient’s family would also donate a kidney (that didn’t match with their loved one) to another stranger. Hours after her kidney retrieval surgery, a local father of 12 was given a new chance. The same day his wife had given the gift of life to a young mother in Oregon.In 2002 a virus destroyed Donna’s mother’s kidneys and all of a sudden this wife, mother of three, and business woman had a very important life altering decision to make. After educating herself and receiving support from her husband and children, Donna says the rest was easy. On May 29, 2002 Donna gave her mother a new lease on life by donating her kidney. “She gave me two kidneys and I was able to give her one back”, Donna stated. Following the transplant surgery, the two shared a hospital room and after three days of recovery, Donna’s mother turned to her and thanked her for saving her life. What a privilege.Love is a verb for Ina Brown. Just three months after her oldest daughter, Sarah, was born, Ina unknowingly ate some undercooked meat which resulted in food poisoning and transferred the bacteria to Sarah as she cared for her. The E.coli infection developed into Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome and ultimately, the loss of Sarah’s kidney function. Without wasting anytime, Ina donated her kidney to her daughter and gave her a second chance at life. Ina’s kidney got Sarah through both elementary school and middle school. Afterwards, Sarah received one more kidneys from a deceased donor and is now awaiting a kidney exchange/chain. Of her decision to donate her kidney, Ina said, “Becoming a donor for my daughter was never NOT an option.”Renee Cline was 48 years old when she donated her kidney to her brother and 2016 float rider Kerry Carpenter. Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, Renee has now been living in California so long she calls it home. Kerry moved out to California five years ago and upon arrival, it was evident that his health was failing. Soon after, Kerry had been told he needed a kidney transplant. Renee immediately volunteered to see if she was a match. She was. Renee and Kerry were surrounded by people who supported them. Everything from that point forward was quick and progressing.Kathy was inspired to donate a kidney while in yoga class where she learned about Jack—a seven year old boy who needed a kidney transplant. She didn’t know Jack, but she did know she wanted to help a child in need. Unfortunately, Kathy’s blood type did not match Jack’s, but the seed of opportunity had been planted. Although she already donated time and money to various causes, Kathy saw donating life as the ultimate opportunity to share and give. She gave her kidney not needing or wanting to know who would receive it, but only that it would help someone. Today she has no regrets. She is completely at peace with her decision to follow her heart and connect to a world and cause greater than her own.Lorena Rodriguez loves Elvis, margaritas and, most of all, sharing the story of her journey to becoming a living kidney donor. After nearly two decades of working with patients in kidney failure, Lorena decided she could do more and became determined to get someone off of dialysis and back to life. But, it wasn’t an easy road. Lorena first had to get her own health in order and, after a new exercise and diet regime, she lost 20 pounds! In February 2011, nine months after she began her journey, Lorena was cleared for surgery and learned her kidney donation would be part of a chain in which three people would get life-saving kidney transplants. “If I could go back and do it all over again, I wouldn’t change one single thing because I had such a wonderful journey.”Nichole was pregnant when her sister was diagnosed with stage four renal failure. She immediately wanted to help, but would have to wait until her daughter was born. In August 2014, Nichole’s daughter was born. In September, Nichole’s mother passed away. In mourning the loss of her mother, Nichole’s plans to help her sister were put on hold. When her sister was put on dialysis in December, Nichole began the process, again, of donating her kidney to her sister. It wasn’t until after the transplant surgery that Nichole realized the miracle of transplant. In the wake of a family tragedy, life was renewed. In the end, Nichole’s family is stronger than ever and Nicole has dedicated her life to becoming a transplant social worker.Rae Ann was 53 years old when she donated a kidney on September 2, 2015. Rae Ann learned about becoming a living donor from a transplant information event she was attending with her husband. Her husband was in chronic kidney failure and needed a transplant. Rae Ann was a match for her husband, but they were willing to participate in a paired exchange with another couple who didn’t match. Rae Ann’s generosity enabled two transplants to occur! Having run in five full marathons and over 15 half marathons, Rae Ann knew she could be a perfect candidate for someone in need. She and her husband decided to do a paired exchange. On Monday August 31, Rae Ann’s husband received a kidney from a woman named Stephanie. Two days later, on Wednesday September 2, Rae Ann gave her kidney to Stephanie’s husband. Both kidneys began working immediately and everyone recovered quickly.When Robert’s wife, Shannon, decided that she would donate her kidney to her brother, Robert was in full support. Shannon’s brother, Scott, suffered from IgA Nephropathy and was in end stage renal failure. Neither Shannon nor Robert expected that the preliminary tests for donation would turn up that Shannon had kidney disease. With Shannon unable to go through with the surgery, Robert stepped up to donate his kidney for Scott. Robert went into surgery with a brave outlook saying, “see ya on the other side”, to his brother in law. Recovery for Robert and Scott was easier as they had requested rooms next to each other, took their first steps together, and were released together. Just two years post-transplant, both are as strong and healthy as ever.With the support of his wife and daughter, Steve donated his kidney to his friend Jamie on January 5, 2010. Jamie was on dialysis three days a week and was looking at a 7 year wait for a kidney transplant. With a low chance of survival, Steve prayed for his friend’s recovery. When Steve informed Jamie of his decision, Jamie hollered in happiness. A couple of tests and four hours of surgery later, Jamie’s health began improving and family and friends looked after Steve’s recovery with prayers and words of encouragement. Jamie can now watch his son grow up and Steve is honored to play a part in such a miracle.When Suzanne needed a job, Tom gave her a chance. Eight years later, when Tom needed a kidney, Suzanne was thrilled to help. Suzanne worked as a nurse following both transplant and donor patients. She had seen how much being on dialysis can affect a patient, and she didn’t want that to happen to Tom’s optimistic and lively stature. Tom was 17 years post liver transplant and 67 years old. He was going into renal failure and had no compatible family donors. With blood type B, Tom would have a long wait ahead of him. Suzanne’s “O” blood type was a great match for Tom. Suzanne stated, she was so impressed with Tom’s pure joy for life and didn’t want to see that fade away. So, she donated her kidney to him.When Tiana’s boss showed her a news article of a man in need of an O positive kidney donor, possibility sparked. After much thought and some research, she decided it would be neat to give such a gift. Tiana reached out to Dan Stafford and his family and began the process to donate. Overjoyed by her decision, Dan’s family made sure that Tiana knew she could change her mind at any time. But even when the doctor informed her of the risks, Tiana stayed planted in her decision. With the support of her family and the appreciation of Dan’s, Tiana went through with the transplantation surgery. Today, she has no regrets and is still overjoyed to have been given the opportunity to give life.