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Consider the gift of life

Learn more about the living kidney donation process to discover whether giving the gift of life could be right for you.

Longtime Friends Share Life-Changing Experience

The University of Kansas Health System performs 2,500th kidney transplant

Six years ago, Tony Zins needed a kidney transplant. Luckily, his sister was a match and graciously offered one of hers. Tony's life went smoothly for about four years until his body started rejecting the kidney. He was forced to go back on dialysis and begin the process of searching for another donor.

This time around, Tony reached out to family and friends. He found it difficult to ask non-family members, but he had run out of options. Dialysis was putting a strain on his body. It was also robbing him of precious time with his wife and two young children.

College connection

Then a miracle happened. Longtime friend Craig Nelson raised his hand. Craig and Tony had been classmates at Kansas State University. Their wives were sorority sisters. And both couples had lived in New York for a while, where their friendship grew.

It's not easy to find a living donor. More than 100,000 Americans are waiting for a kidney. And every day, 13 people die because a matching donor is not available.

Tony was lucky. Craig not only offered to get tested, he passed The University of Kansas Health System's 5-step donor evaluation process. He was a match. The transplant team let Craig tell Tony the good news. Craig smiles, "It was a fun phone call."

Amazing experience

Physicians at The University of Kansas Health System have completed 2,500 transplants since 1969. That's more kidney transplants than any other program in Kansas or Missouri. Even more important, our patient survival rates are higher than regional and national averages.

Craig and Tony were both impressed with the care they received. Craig says, "The team here was just so good about holding my hand through the whole process."

Just two days after surgery, Tony felt better than he had in two years. He says he will never be able to thank his friend enough. Craig was happy to do it.

"It's an amazing experience to be able to change someone's life," he says.

Join the journey

Follow Tony and Craig's journey of their living donor experience.