In Kindergarten, Nicole and Anna were such good friends that they pretended to be sisters. But since Nicole donated a kidney to Anna in 2007, they "share" a kidney and the gift of life - a bond they feel is closer than sisters.
Today, Nathan is an enthusiastic husband, professional, volunteer, and board member thanks to the generosity of three liver donors and a kidney donor.
Nathan Westerlund was born with a condition that caused liver failure and many life-threatening effects. As a very sick baby and young child, much of his time was spent in the hospital. Each wait for transplant was precarious, and donors saved his life at ages three, five and seven.
Nathan still remembers the terrible pain and some of the fear of those years. Mostly, though, he remembers his parents’ contagious optimism and amazing ability to buoy his spirits, while doctors battled to keep him alive.
After his third liver transplant, Nathan grew to adulthood in good health, pursued his education and launched his career. Eventually, though, medications took a toll on his kidneys. Dialysis was tough, but Nathan knows he was fortunate to be able to continue working. For two years, he was known as “the guy in the suit,” while most at his dialysis center were too ill to work, and some did not survive the wait.
With a fourth donor’s gift, Nathan’s life was saved again at age 29. Grateful for his newly restored health, he looked for a way to give that chance to thousands of area children and adults who face the wait for lifesaving donation. Today, Nathan is an enthusiastic volunteer, and board member, leading efforts to build support for education and outreach programs through events like Tabor Trot.
“The generosity of my donors inspires me every day. Thanks to their amazing gifts, I am enjoying my 30s, with a successful career and recent marriage to the love of my life. Doing my part with the Donate Life Northwest community is the best way I can share my gratitude and continue my donors’ legacies of giving hope.”