Most transplanted organs are recovered after the donors die and no longer need them. But many kidney donors are still very much alive when they give one to a patient facing renal failure. They have two and can live a normal life with only one.
Tuesday night donors and recipients in the kidney transplant program at Mercy Health in Grand Rapids were together to celebrate.

Mercy Health has already performed over 100 kidney transplants in 2016. Many of the organs are donated by people who have surgery and give up a kidney to help a family member, a friend, friend of a friend or even a stranger.

“It is just amazing people will come forward and be willing to donate,” says Dr. Mark Boelkins, Transplant Center Medical Director. “Somebody goes from being on chronic dialysis and unable to work to being able to once again have a fulfilling life.”

“I was just so excited I was going to be able to help my brother and see his health come back that I didn't think anything about myself,” says Shirley Brakebill, who donated a kidney to her brother, Bill Stafford. “I just knew I had to help him.”

“I can just about do whatever I want to do,” says Bill. “I cut the grass. I’m out doing everything back to normal. It’s a blessing. That’s all you can say. It’s a blessing.”

Bill Stafford, 62, was on the waiting list for a kidney transplant for about two years. Some patients die waiting for a match. Contact Gift of Life Michigan to find out more about organ and tissue donation. 866-500-5801