A person with kidney disease could wait for a transplant from a deceased donor for years until the right match is found. But a donation from a living donor can speed up the process and improve a patient’s quality of life much faster. One Park City community member recently triggered the life-saving surgeries of four kidney patients with her donation.
Laura Diaz Moore donated her kidney in May to a complete stranger.
“I’d do it again in a heartbeat," Diaz Moore said. "I received so much love and support from everyone in the community, and it was just a great experience.”
Diaz Moore, a mountain host at Park City Mountain Resort, says she had always been drawn to stories about organ donation. Last fall, she came across a Facebook post about a teenager who needed a kidney. Diaz Moore has a child the same age, and the story resonated with her. So, she signed up to see if she was a match.
“While I waited, I started researching kidney donation, and I realized it was actually kind of an easy thing to do, and there are so many people in need, and the process was just so intriguing to me, so I signed up," Diaz Moore said. "Eventually, I got an email back from the organization saying, 'this child doesn't need a kidney anymore, she got one from someone else, but would you still be willing to donate?' And I was just totally committed already to the whole process, I was like, sure, of course I will.”
To qualify for kidney donation as a living donor, potential donors undergo a series of tests to determine how compatible their organ will be with a recipient. Transplant teams also consider factors such as the size of the kidney and the ages of the donor and recipient. The recipient’s health insurance covered the cost of Diaz Moore’s tests.
Diaz Moore doesn’t know who received her kidney, but she opted to find out, if the recipient is open to it. What she does know is her kidney flew to Madison, Wisconsin, to a recipient who is between 50 and 60 years old. From there, Diaz Moore says her donation started a living-donor organ donation chain.
“My kidney went to Wisconsin; the Wisconsin kidney went to California; then the friend of the person receiving in California donated a kidney, and they were matched with someone in D.C., so that kidney flew to D.C.; and then the D.C. kidney went to Maine, and so there were four people who got kidneys. It was just pretty amazing that my donation impacted that many people.”
After her surgery, Diaz Moore wrote a letter to the recipient, to express her gratitude and convey her experience.
“Even though I was giving this gift, I felt like I got more out of it than this person did," Diaz Moore said. "It was just such an empowering experience, and I tried to share that with this person. With the state of the world, you can get kind of depressed and down about all the divisiveness, and you just feel like you don’t have power to change the world. I came across the saying that you might not be able to change the world, but you might be able to change one person's world, and it just made me feel good, like I can make a difference.”
Diaz Moore hasn’t been in direct contact with the recipient, but she heard from the recipient’s transplant team after surgery that the kidney immediately began working and the patient started feeling better. You can read more about Diaz Moore’s story here.