Close Friends Bond Over a Kidney Transplant

Diana and Donna's transplant story

Diana Peterson, a senior accountant and mother living in Alabama, was on home dialysis when she began to explore the possibility of getting a kidney transplant. She joined the national transplant waiting list in 2018, though she didn’t want to call attention to it. In fact, one of her closest friends and co-workers had to pry the news out of her. That same co-worker, Donna Kucera, would go on to make her friend an incredibly generous offer: to be Diana’s kidney donor.

Inherited kidney issues and a diagnosis

When Diana was a freshman in college, she went to the doctor with an infection and high blood pressure. She was eventually diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a genetic condition that causes cysts to grow inside your kidneys. PKD ran on Diana’s father's side of the family—her grandmother, father, and three brothers all had PKD as well. PKD can also lead to chronic kidney disease (CKD), and Diana’s kidney health began to decline.

A new baby, a new job, and some new treatment decisions

Diana gave birth to a son in 2009. Afterward, her kidney function started to get worse. Diana started a new job in 2012 and continued to manage her health the best she could. She loved her new company and the people she worked with. By 2016, Diana was excelling at work and starting to really struggle with her kidney health. 

In one year, she went from a glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of 30, which is late Stage 3 CKD, to a GFR of 17, which is late Stage 4 CKD. It was time to make a plan. In 2018, Diana and her nephrologist decided to start peritoneal dialysis (PD). Diana also was evaluated for a kidney transplant, and she went on the national transplant waiting list.

Friendship and the ultimate gift

Because Diana could do PD at night, she was able to work full time and enjoy a full life with her son and her friends. Her Fresenius Kidney Care team gave her confidence and support—and her employer and co-workers were very supportive as well. When they heard that Diana was waiting for a kidney, both her closest friend, Donna, and another colleague’s wife offered to be her kidney donor

From the minute I heard, I said ‘I’ll give you a kidney!’” Donna explains. “Diana is the sweetest, most generous person—she’d never ask for anything.” Donna was the first person to get tested for compatibility and she was a donor match. When she called to share the news, Diana was standing in a store check-out line. “I started crying and had to explain to everybody in line what was happening,”Diana shares. “A lot was lifted off my shoulders, just knowing there was hope.”

A successful transplant and plenty to celebrate

Diana and Donna say they felt connected from the day they met, like they’d known each other forever. After Diana’s successful kidney transplant, they have a bond that’s even deeper. “My kidney function was 3% the day before the surgery and now it's about 78%,” Diana explains. “Donna is my family, she’s like my sister—she gave me my life back. Now I can live free of a machine and see my 10 year old grow up.” The two ladies plan to celebrate their “kidney-versary” together every year from now on.


April 2020

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