Intermountain Medical Center Nurse Living Kidney Donor for Neighbor
MURRAY – A transplant nurse at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray this week went above and beyond the call of duty when she herself became a kidney donor for an ailing neighbor and gave him the gift of life.
Debbie Beck, a nurse on the surgical/transplant unit at Intermountain Medical Center has spent the last 15 years of her career caring for transplant patients. But this week she experienced things from the other side. Through the Intermountain Medical Center Transplant Program’s Living Donor Program, she became a transplant patient herself for her neighbor, Russell Maynes.
Beck and Maynes are neighbors in the South Jordan community of Daybreak. “They were the first neighbors we met when we moved to Daybreak,” said Beck. “They’re just such wonderful people.”
Maynes, 67, a retired facilities manager for the LDS Church, was diagnosed with diabetes 15 years ago. About a year and a half ago, he started having trouble with his kidneys. He was added to the kidney transplant registry last May.
Beck says she knew about Maynes’ health issues but didn’t know the extent until she saw him on her unit one evening in July being prepped for a cadaver donation that didn’t end up being a good match.
“I found out that none of his children were a match. He’s such a good man, I just felt like I should help,” said Beck, 58, of her decision to pursue becoming a living donor.
Without telling Maynes, she began the process to make sure her kidneys were healthy enough to be a donor – which takes several months. “She came to our house and said, ‘Well, I’m a match and this is when we’re having the surgery,’ said Maynes with a smile. “I think it’s just marvelous that someone would do that.”
The two underwent a six-hour surgery at Intermountain Medical Center on Tuesday. Three days later, both are doing well, and walking laps around the unit.
“I saw Debbie out there this morning and thought I’d better get out there myself,” says Maynes. “I did five laps today.”
Maynes wife is grateful, too. “It’s not just Debbie giving this gift, it’s her whole family,” said Ruth Maynes. “And it’s not just us receiving this gift – it’s our children, 40 grandchildren, and three great-grand children who are receiving the gift of more time with Russell. We’re just so grateful to Debbie for that.”
Patients in the Intermountain West who need a liver or kidney transplant can receive an organ from a living donor. That can be a friend, family member, or even a “Good Samaritan” donor whom they’ve never met. Anyone can be screened to see if they are a match of a patient who needs a kidney or liver. Intermountain’s Transplant Services team has performed 1,016 living donor transplants since the program began in 1983.
Living donation has a higher success rate for two reasons: Surgeries can be scheduled and coordinated for quick transplantation which is vital since the longer an organ remains outside of the body, the harder it is for that organ to function again. And the screening and matching process with Living donation is easier, quicker, and safer.
Living donation also makes more organs available for people who need them.
For more information about how to become a living donor visit http://www.yesutah.org/content/livingdonation.