April is here, and it’s National Donate Life Month! Observed each year, National Donate Life Month encourages Americans to register as organ, eye, and tissue donors, and to honor those who have saved lives through the gift of donation. We want to share a personal story from one of our team members, Julie Joyner, Assistant General Manager of Genesis Community Management, who recently made a life-saving donation to her mother-in-law. Check out Julie’s inspiring story below:
Five years ago, my mother-in-law, Marsha suffered a massive heart attack and damage to her kidneys, which resulted in chronic kidney failure. Low kidney function makes you feel terrible – no appetite or energy. There is no doubt though that after her heart attack, Marsha’s commitment to her health slowed her kidney decline.
Early in 2020, her doctor recommended evaluation for placement on the National Kidney Registry with the hope of finding a donor match. Once the transplant team approved Marsha as a candidate, the search for a donor kidney began. I started to fill out the form for evaluation and told my two boys, ages 11 and 9, that I would be getting more tests to see if I could donate a kidney to Grandma. They immediately spilled the beans to Grandma when she picked them up after school. She was completely shocked and then showed a look of such joy and hope. At that moment, my decision was made.
Additional tests to determine donor health took place once the initial match was made. Every test came back with good results, and then I met with the surgeon. The transplant team then determined that I was eligible to donate. We waited for a couple of months and finally got the go-ahead for February 3, 2021.
Due to COVID restrictions, no visitors were permitted in the hospital with very few exceptions. On February 2, our family left, and we checked into the hospital together. Our rooms were across the hall from each other. At 5:30 a.m., I was taken to pre-op and then to the operating room. When I woke up in recovery, my first question was about my mother-in-law! Marsha was awake and alert, and her new kidney was already working!
Marsha spent about 24 hours in the ICU and then was transferred to a room on my floor. I was able to walk to her room and we were crying and hugging and laughing all at once. She said, “Julie I feel so great!” And, if you can imagine, that was after a major abdominal surgery. Within 48 hours, with the new kidney, she felt better than she had in five long years. Her kidney function was completely normal.
HHHunt has a long history of supporting organ donation and employee well-being. When I first tested as a match, I told my manager about the possible surgery and she was incredibly supportive. As I continued through the process, my team offered to support me in every way. Having the backing of my employer made the choice to donate less complicated. I am so grateful to be a part of an organization that supports employees so significantly and to work with such an amazing team.
-Julie Joyner, Assistant General Manager of Genesis Community Management
At HHHunt, we believe it’s how you live that matters, and Julie’s story illustrates how our team members are dedicated to improving the world every day. Click here to learn more about our culture, vision, mission, brand promises and values.