Two Utah County sisters know no bounds when it comes to their love and sharing.
Earlier this month at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Natalie Frisby, 44, gave her sister the ultimate gift – she donated one of her kidneys to younger sibling Lacy Laird, 37, who has kidney disease.
During a routine healthcare check-up last March, doctors told Laird her kidney was functioning at only 30 percent of capacity, and diagnosed her with IgA nephropathy, a disease that causes damage to the tiny filters inside the kidneys.
“Right then and there I told her she could have my kidney,” said Frisby.
“All of a sudden you have a mother of four — absolutely happy and content with her life — and a beautiful family having to think about being tethered to a dialysis machine and facing transplantation,” said Srini Srinivas, MD, medical director of the Intermountain Healthcare Kidney/Pancreas Transplant Program at Intermountain Medical Center. “You can imagine all the things going through this family’s head.”
Her sister was a perfect match: healthy, and willing to donate. Laird was more than grateful for the gift.
Doctors tentatively scheduled a March 2019 surgery, but then Laird’s numbers and health started to deteriorate, forcing an earlier-than-expected transplant surgery date.
Almost immediately after the surgery, the sisters were in high spirits, wearing t-shirts in the hospital showing their love for one another. Frisby’s shirt said, “My mama always taught me to share. I didn’t think it would go this far.” Not to be outdone, Laird’s t-shirt said, “Best hand-me-down ever!”
Their humor and love have helped pull them through this difficult time.
Organ donation is not new to this family. Their father received three transplants over 30 years while he was fighting kidney disease.
Another sister also donated a kidney to a brother.
Frisby said she always knew it was her calling in life to help someone out. “I’m just glad it was my sister,” she added.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 94,847 people are waiting for a new kidney in the U.S. In Utah, 525 people need a kidney transplant.
The transplant program at Intermountain Medical Center is one of the programs offering nationwide kidney swaps, in which a living kidney donor isn’t compatible with their designated recipient, so they exchange kidneys with another donor and recipient — which eliminates compatibility issues.
“Not having the right blood type or tissue type are now excuses of the past,” said Dr. Srinivas said.
The two sisters, Laird and Frisby, are now telling their story in hopes of encouraging others to check the box, become an organ donor, and give the gift of life. In Utah, you can register to be a donor at www.yesutah.org.