Living donor gives extraordinary gift of life

Living kidney donorSome might say theirs was a match made in heaven.

That’s what kidney transplant recipient David Seldner believes, as does his living donor, Ellen Murphy. David, 58, received Ellen’s “extraordinary gift of life” in August at The University of Kansas Hospital’s Center for Transplantation.

Ellen, 42, had been the Seldners’ personal trainer for several years. She knew David’s wife, Jeanne, was not a match and that he had no other living relatives. She eagerly volunteered with the blessing of her husband and sons. Ellen then called the Seldners and said, “I want you to pray I’m a match.”

From that moment, until the day of her testing, Ellen prayed. “Before the blood test, I told the technician, ‘Don’t draw blood until you pray I’m a match,’” she said.

Living donor program

David was one of 20 transplant patients to receive a living donor organ this year through the Center for Transplantation. Transplant surgeons, who perform more than 100 kidney transplants each year, want to increase the number of living kidney donors. 

“We would like to see 50 percent of our kidney transplants coming from living donors,” said Sean Kumer, MD, PhD, transplant surgeon. “Living donors increase the availability of the donor pool, meaning more deceased donor kidneys are available.”

Among the other benefits, living donor kidneys last three to five years longer than those from deceased donors. The surgery can be performed sooner than the average two-to-three-year wait for a deceased donor kidney.

A story to tell

David and Ellen credited the hospital and their surgeons, Timothy Schmitt, MD, and Dr. Kumer, for their “positive life-affirming experience” with living donation and delivering “stellar care."

“The quality of care at The University of Kansas Hospital is superior,” said David, who also had quintuple bypass surgery at the hospital’s Center for Advanced Heart Care. “When a collaborative environment is so innate – the rule, not the exception – patients benefit.”

David and Ellen are passionate about sharing their story with others who may be considering living kidney donation.

“We are remarkably fortunate,” David said of the quality of life he and Jeanne now experience. “This is an extraordinary gift that keeps on giving. We want to help more people understand there is something they can do by becoming a living donor.”

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