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Amber Kudrna

When I was 7 years old, my family found out that one of my kidneys never developed from birth and the other was badly scarred from recurrent infections. We were told at that point that, as I grew, my kidney wouldn’t be able to keep up and I’d eventually need a transplant. That day came when I was 15, when I was told I had 25% kidney function and needed to get listed for transplant. Thankfully, my mom was a match and gave me her kidney a couple of months later. Her kidney lasted 8 years before I was once again facing dialysis or transplant.

I spent 2 ½ years on dialysis while waiting for another kidney. Spending a portion of my 20’s on dialysis held me back from living a normal life with goals such as an education, career and family. My life consisted of 3 dialysis treatments a week at 3 ½ hours each, along with multiple doctor appointments, surgeries and procedures to maintain my dialysis access. I wouldn’t wish kidney failure on anyone- dialysis left me feeling lethargic, depressed and constantly dependent on others to make it through my day. Often times I felt like a robot, pushing away the reality of how severe my health was.

I was sitting at dialysis when I got the call, and can still replay the entire day in my head. Surgery went well, and I will never forget how energized I felt. My recovery was not overnight but, again, my family played a huge role in helping me overcome yet another obstacle.

Today, because of my donors family’s decision, I have a career that I love, an amazing husband, a handsome step-son, and a beautiful miracle child. I am so blessed to have amazing friends and family who support me everyday!

It has given me the best outlook on life, taught me never to take things for granted, and just how much one person’s choice can change the lives of others. I no longer live only to take care of myself, but to everyday honor my donor. I am amazed at how much someone I’ve never met has humbled me.

“Without the organ donor, there is no story, no hope, no transplant. But when there is an organ donor, life springs from death, sorrow turns to hope and a terrible loss becomes a gift.”—UNOS

I am living proof to never lose hope.

From a perspective of a recipient, I think it is so easy for me to tell everyone to be an organ donor. I have never known what it is like to be on the other side of donation.

My heart goes out to people who make this amazingly tough decision in time of such sadness. Because of this, I can only hope that the families of past and future donors will read my story and find some comfort in the decision they made knowing that it changed someone’s life so immensely.