Kidney donation a lifesaving, ‘life changing’ experience

Apr 2, 2024

The need for organ donations is high, as Wareham resident Robin Murphy discovered through personal experience. 

Last year, Murphy found out that her friend was in need of a kidney, and she was able to make the donation. Murphy’s friend did not want to be named. Now, Murphy wants to spread the word about ‘living donation,’ the process where a donor is able to give an organ while still alive. 

Murphy’s friend told her in the spring of 2023 that she had been diagnosed with Stage 5 kidney disease and needed to go on dialysis. 

It was “horrific to hear” how much she’d been through and how much there was ahead, Murphy said. The wait for a kidney from a deceased donor was between six and 10 years. 

Over 100,000 people are waiting for organ transplants, with 86% of people waiting for a kidney, according to Donate Life America, a nonprofit working to increase the number of donated organs, eyes and tissues available. 

Two of Murphy’s family members had already received organ transplants, giving her an idea of what was possible. Once she found out she and her friend shared the same blood type, she offered to be a kidney donor. 

“Giving it a shot was easier than watching her fail,” said Murphy. 

The whole process took around four months, due to the testing and the preparation needed, said Murphy. 

“During this time and right up to the surgery, my friend made sure I had every opportunity to change my mind,” said Murphy. “The more I learned, the more I felt this was the right decision.” 

The surgery went well, with Murphy and her friend getting their operations at the same hospital at the same time, so the kidney only had to be out of a body for around 20 minutes. 

Murphy went to see her friend directly after the surgery. 

“It was the most amazing sight,” she said. “Her coloring was back, her voice sounded stronger [and] we could see she was so much better after being sick for so long.”

Murphy originally thought organ donors had to be young, but she and her friend were both 67, she said. She added, the risks to a donor are minimal, either from the surgery or from being without a kidney afterward. 

And for Murphy, the slight risk was worth it to see her friend healthy again. 

“At my first interview, the transplant surgeon told me that my life would not change after donating a kidney, but that my friend’s life would,” Murphy said. “In reality, both of our lives were forever changed in the best possible ways.”