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Angels Among Us

This page contains stories of people who've risked their lives in sacrificing an organ to save the lives of needy strangers.

Story #1 (Nov. 12, 2003 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review front page headline; a registered nurse donates a kidney to her son's dying coworker)
Story #2 (Dec. 2003 Reader's Digest; two men donate portions of a lung to save a young man with cystic fibrosis)
Story #3 (from 1999, but relayed to me in June 2003, directly from the donor, Cheryl Musselman)

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Personal testimonial of angelic kidney donor, Cheryl Musselman

     Last November right before Thanksgiving, I read an article in the Frederick, MD newspaper about a gentleman who needed a kidney. He was on dialysis three times a week for 4 hours each time. It also said his blood type was O-positive. My blood type is O-positive. I called directory information and got a phone number. I called and after reaching his parents I was able to connect with him. He is 54 years old and his name is John. I told him I would be willing to help him if I knew what to do or how to go about it. They contacted the transplant people and told them about me. After Christmas, and not hearing anything, I spoke to John again. It seems that because I'm not related to him, they have a problem with my donating my kidney. It was unprecedented and they had no policies on performing such surgery. I got the name of a woman at the transplant office and after speaking to her I made arrangements to meet John. For some reason this made them more receptive to my donating. I then had to go and have blood taken for testing for compatibility. It seems there are 6 different blood matches that have to be compatible in order for a transplant to be successful. After three weeks of waiting and not hearing anything, I got a call and was told that 5 of the matches were good and that the other one was 'almost' good. This meant that John would have to go through a dialysis-type of blood cleansing to try to get his blood to be compatible with mine, in the 6th match area. This also is a little riskier on his part to go through with this. If he agrees to do this they will probably start his blood cleansing soon. If his blood can reach the point of matching mine, within one week the transplant has to take place.
     I had my first appointment with the transplant coordinator June 10, 1999, and they will be setting up an appointment for me to have a complete physical soon. After that they will start a procedure of extracting antibodies from John's blood to try to get our bloods to match. A perfect match is 1:1 and a terrible one is 1:256. Our's is currently 1:2 and the coordinator seemed to think that the cleansing (extracting antibodies) procedure may only have to be done once or twice. When they do this to John I have to stop in and they will extract my blood and compare the two. When it matches we have about 48 hours to get on the operating tables.
     The third week of August John's blood was looking real good, and every other day I would stop at the hospital and they would do a matching. On Friday August 20, I stopped and they said I probably wouldn't hear from them until the following week. Saturday, my parents and I were out running around, and when we got home, there were 8 messages from the hospital asking that I come immediately! So at 4pm August 21, I arrived at the hospital and they wheeled me into surgery at 8pm. On the way into the operating room, I saw John for the third time, I had met him once during the blood drawing visits. And they wheeled me out of the recovery room at midnight. I was walking the next day and I went home on Monday
at noon. John was in the hospital for almost a month, as his body tried to reject the kidney, but today he is fine, still has his other health issues, but no more dialysis for JOHN!!!

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Last Updated 12/5/03