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A Christ Hospital staff member gives gift of life

Jenny Hudson, a member of The Christ Hospital public relations and marketing department, has given new meaning to words like “gift,” “generosity” and “friendship.” Jenny gave the most selfless gift of all to another person – the gift of life – at The Christ Hospital.

On Aug. 31, 2010, Jenny donated one of her kidneys to someone she did not even know. She says the decision to become an altruistic kidney donor was a “no-brainer.” “Everyone wants to make an impact on someone else’s life,” says Jenny. “If I could make someone’s life better, happier, longer….Why wouldn’t I? There was no reason why I shouldn’t, and a lot of reasons why I should.”

Jenny made the decision to become a kidney donor last winter, which then began a long process to determine whether she could in fact be a donor. After undergoing EKGs, bloodwork, CT scans, and a number of other tests, Jenny received the “green light” in April, and learned that a recipient, or “match,” for her kidney had been found.

Although the transplant occurred at the end of the summer, several months would go by before Jenny had the opportunity to meet her recipient, Tom Hendrix, for the first time – and she says it was well worth the wait! “I wanted Tom to know that there were no strings attached. I just want him to live a happy life,” says Jenny.

Tom and Jenny say they were both nervous and excited about meeting each other for the first time. “I was more nervous about meeting Tom for the first time than I was about undergoing the surgery,” says Jenny. “There are so few absolute surprises in your life, and this definitely was one of them. He was very gracious, and we hit it off immediately.”

“The words ‘kindness of a stranger’ are an understatement here,” says Tom. “I’ve never received this type of kindness from someone I don’t even know. Because of her kindness, I’m able to be here with my kids, grandchildren, and my family. The first thing I said to her was, ‘Thank you for saving my life.’”

Tom knows all too well what a lifesaving gift this really is, considering this is his third kidney transplant – the first from a living donor. “I was on dialysis for 2 ½ years. When I found out that a match was found, I felt joy and happiness, because I was being given another chance at life,” says Tom.

Tom and Jenny are both feeling well and say they have so much to be thankful for this holiday season. “I’m very thankful for my new kidney, and for my new friend,” says Tom. “We will be friends for life.”

Jenny adds, “I’m thankful that we both had such a good outcome and for all the physicians, nurses and other staff at The Christ Hospital who made this experience happen. Being an employee of The Christ Hospital gave me all the confidence in the world to do this, and because of this, I never had any doubts about donating my kidney.”

For others who may consider becoming a living organ donor, Jenny offers these words of wisdom: “You have to be comfortable in your own decision and with your own reasons before you should more forward. But once you do, and you get the hard part behind you (the surgery), you realize that your own discomfort has been nothing compared to what someone needing an organ transplant has gone through. And if you’re really lucky, you make a friend for life.”

You can help!

You don’t have to be a living donor to help someone needing an organ donation. You can register your intent to become an organ and tissue donor on your state donor registry by indicating so on your driver’s license.

For more information about organ and tissue donation, contact LifeCenter, our local non-profit organ procurement organization, at 513-558-5555, or visit www.lifepassiton.org

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