After 2 decades of kidney disease and several years of dialysis, Gloria received the gift of life through a paired kidney exchange.
Margaret faced kidney disease and transplant, but she didn't face it alone. Her family, her Erase the Wait mentor, and her paired kidney exchange partner helped her through it.
When Margaret Shortreed reached the end of her rewarding, yet challenging career of advocating for and working with high-risk children, she eagerly looked forward to the “sweet life of retirement.” She and George, her husband of nearly 55 years planned their future of traveling and spending lots of time with their children and grandchildren. Then, after Margaret suffered two kidney infections, she was given a sudden and surprising diagnosis: Stage 4 kidney disease. Margaret was a fortunate patient in that she never got what she calls “really sick.” She had dreaded the possibility of dialysis, as she had watched her younger sister undergo grueling dialysis treatments in the past.
Participation in the Erase the Wait living kidney mentorship program sustained Margaret throughout her illness as it offered the support and understanding of other people faced with the same challenges. She was also paired with a mentor, a living kidney donor named Isabelle. Margaret shares, “Isabelle’s been there through the whole thing – before, during, and after. I could not have been blessed with a better mentor.”
Erase the Wait and Isabelle empowered Margaret and George by giving them the courage and information to seek out a living donor. They sprang into action, looking for a living kidney donor. It was through this search that a family friend named Annie offered to be a donor. When Annie learned she wasn’t a compatible match for Margaret, she offered to donate to a stranger as part of a paired kidney exchange, which enabled Margaret to receive a compatible kidney from an anonymous donor.
On December 14, 2021, Margaret received her anonymous donor’s kidney. And though she doesn’t know her donor, she feels so grateful to her donor and to Annie. Margaret explains,” It’s the most amazing thing for Annie to agree to do a paired exchange. There are just not words.” One day, both Margaret and Annie would love to meet the two other people involved in their exchange. Margaret would like to share with them how very thankful she is for the gift she’s been given.
Margaret’s recovery was slow but steady, and was made a little more halting and complicated due to the COVID pandemic. But she is experiencing her dream of spending more time with her family and getting back to her meaningful volunteer work. In the summer of 2022, Margaret even went through the training to become a mentor for the Erase the Wait program that was so helpful to her.
For anyone who is considering living kidney donation, Margaret has this advice: “Educate yourself. Learn as much as you can, because donation is an involved process that doesn’t just affect you – it affects your whole family. Be your own best advocate; then make the best decision you can for you.”