Stranger Donates Kidney to Daughter’s Co-Worker and Encourages Others to Give the Gift of Life

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DES MOINES, Iowa – We’re all looking for ways to help these days, and two Iowa women hope their story will make you think about a life-saving gift.

More than 95,000 Americans are on the kidney transplant waiting list. The United Network for Organ Sharing says 6,000 transplants are made by living donors every year.

Sone Xaykose said, “Several years ago I was diagnosed with a disease called IgA nephropathy, and so it’s hereditary.”

Xaykose’s disease started deteriorating. She ended up in the emergency room in April of last year. “Right now, a year after the fact, we’re rewinding, basically my story, as far as what had happened to me and how I got up to this point here. It’s just completely amazing.”

Sone started dialysis and telling people she needed a kidney transplant. One day she had a conversation with a co-worker who happened to have a mom considering donating her spare.

Janine Russell said, “Having your health is a gift. At my age, I thought, why not. Being a living donor, you get to see the benefit.”

Russell started the process to donate her kidney to a woman she had yet to meet. On June 26, 2019, they had the transplant surgery at Iowa Methodist Medical Center. Two days later, the two women met.

“When I had to start dialysis, my life just ripped out of me. Janine came along, and she pretty much saved my life and she has been my angel since,” said Xaykose.  

“It’s not easy. It’s a process. The recovery is a challenge, and to have a good base, my family, my kids. I couldn’t have done this without my husband,” said Russell.

“The fact that I now know Sone, and can see how it’s improved her life, and made ours just a bigger family circle,” she said.

“I am feeling absolutely wonderful. I’m living life again, living life in the way that I never thought I would imagine,” said Xaykose.

“Janine has taught me so much as far as what it means to love. Love others, love thy neighbor, love unconditionally,” she added.

The women were supposed to share their story at a special Donate Life month ceremony this month, but it’s canceled because of the COVID-19 outbreak. They still plan to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the transplant on June 26 together, even if it must be delayed.

You can find Iowa Methodist Transplant Center’s living donation form on UnityPoint Health’s website, if you’d like more information or to sign up.

The Iowa Donor Network provides in formation about organ donation and how to sign up to become an organ, tissue, and eye donor. Currently, 598 Iowans are waiting for an organ transplant.

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