Two at Farm Credit are kidney donorsPublished 6:16pm Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of stories aimed at increasing public awareness about organ donation and the lives that it impacts.
Two Farm Credit employees, Joyce Earnest and Kathy Wachman, each have served as organ donors for members of their family. Both said the experience truly touched them, and they would do it again in a heartbeat.
Joyce Earnest, corporate support coordinator at Farm Credit, donated one of her kidneys to her late son, Stacy, when he was 9 years old. Stacy was able to keep that kidney for six-and-a-half years, before his body rejected it. Thankfully, Stacy was able to get another kidney from a second organ donor, who had died in a car accident.
Earnest said that Stacy survived with that kidney for another 18 years, before it also failed. She said he ultimately decided that he did not want to go through another kidney transplant, and passed away at the age of 34, approximately seven years ago.
Earnest said she knows that the two kidney transplants were able to prolong the life of her son, who was first diagnosed with kidney disease at the age of 6.
“The big story, to me, isn’t that I gave up my kidney,” Earnest said. “Any mother would have done the same. The bigger story was that second organ donor, whose gift allowed my son to live for another 18 years.”
Earnest was never able to meet the family of the kidney donor, but said she has a “heart bond” with them anyway.
“Even though we have never met, I feel like I know them,” she said. “I can’t explain the happiness that I felt when I heard that a donor had been found for him. I was on a high for two years; I just felt a tremendous joy.”
Earnest has told her story to civic organizations and in other public settings, and said she now truly knows the importance of organ donation.
“People need to know how important that it is, and how they can help save a life that would otherwise be lost,” she said.
Kathy Wachman, who works in special assets management for Farm Credit, is a recent kidney donor.
On Aug. 29, she gave her kidney to her 71-year-old stepfather, Gerald Miller, who lives in Quapaw, Okla., and has had diabetes since 2002. Wachman said her stepfather was on the transplant waiting list for two years before she decided to donate and discovered she was an ideal match.
“I was excited to know that I could help,” she said.
Wachman said that Miller has not only already lost a lot of weight that he had gained due to the kidney failure, but he is also now walking two miles, three times a week.
“It is amazing the health difference that he has had since the surgery,” she said. “Seeing those positive changes has definitely made my recovery a lot easier.”
Wachman said she was also helped by the support of her church and friends, particularly her co-worker Earnest.
“It was very helpful to have somebody I knew that had already been through donating a kidney,” Wachman said. “[Earnest] really gave me a lot of support.”