BEAUFORT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - This Christmas marks a first for a Beaufort County resident, Rachel Jordan. She is celebrating this year with only one kidney.
She reflects on what it meant to donate so her friend, Jon Anglemyer, could make it through a tough organ rejection.
Their surgeries took place in September at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
“They gave us like a two-week notice. It was like the beginning of September. Rachel texted me and was like, ‘Hey, I got the word. We’re having both of our surgeries on September 15th,’ said Anglemyer.
Now several months recovered, the transplant donor is in much better health.
“My energy levels have sky rocketed,” said Anglemyer. “Everybody tells me my color is so much better and I just have been feeling great. It’s like being given a new lease on life, that’s for sure.”
Jon received his kidney through the Kidney for Life program, where donors and recipients are matched based on DNA compatibility.
Rachel made a donation on his behalf to a toddler in Minnesota. In return, Anglemyer was matched with his own donated organ.
In September, the pair traveled to Minnesota for their surgeries. Just hours apart, the toddler, Gabriel Ryan, also went in for his surgery.
“I got to meet Gabriel’s mother and father the day after and see Gabriel,” said Jordan. “He was still sedated but yeah, I got to meet them right afterwards.”
Baby Gabriel was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease. His parents were told to prepare to lose their child.
Thankfully, Gabriel was able to survive in utero until he was delivered at 37 weeks.
“I’m super happy for the boy up in Minnesota,” said Anglemyer. “He’s really been given a new lease on life because basically, they didn’t know what his outcome was going to be until Rachel stepped up and gave him a kidney.”
Going into the year with new kidneys and new goals, both Jon Anglemyer and Baby Gabriel are doing well.
“Just the thought that he can continue his life and see his kids go to college and grow up and do all that,” said Jordan, “and at the same time knowing that we helped someone else and that we get to continue that chain is really special.”
Anglemyer’s first kidney transplant was in done in combination with a liver transplant in his 20s. He is grateful to his friend for giving him another chance.
Especially as all transplant patients run the risk of organ rejection. About 30-percent of people who receive a kidney transplant will experience some type of rejection, usually within the first six month, but it can happen at anytime.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, about 3,000 new patients are added to the kidney waiting list each month.