Sharing the gift of life: How donating an organ can change a life

On the first day of Donate Life Month, a North Iowa couple shares the story of receiving the best gift there is

Posted: Apr 2, 2019 1:03 AM
Updated: Apr 2, 2019 8:14 AM

CHARLES CITY, Iowa - It's a startling statistic: approximately 114,000 people are waiting for a life-saving transplant nationwide according to Donate Life America.

To mark this important need, April is designated Donate Life Month. And at a ceremony at the Floyd County Medical Center Monday afternoon, Charles City couple Ronald and Marilyn Venz shared the story of how a donated kidney changed their lives.

"First, we went to the doctor in Mason City, and the kidney doctor told him he only had 23% of his total kidney functioning," Marilyn said.

Ronald did not want to do dialysis, and while he remained in good health, his kidney condition was becoming perilously poor. A donated kidney from a deceased donor would almost assuredly mean waiting.

"They put him on the list at Mayo Clinic in Rochester to receive a kidney from a deceased donor. They said it would take 3-5 years."

Doctors tried to find that perfect match, including from Marilyn herself. Turns out that his best friend John was an ideal match, and the surgery was set for February 20th, Ron's birthday. Fortunately, the surgery was a success.

"They changed his life and they gave him the best gift of all: the chance of a good life and a kidney donation that changed our world."

Kim Isakson is Logan Luft's aunt. He was 15 years old when he passed away in an ATV accident. The boy had expressed interest in becoming an organ donor before his untimely death, and is the inspiration for "Logan's Law." Isakson believes designating yourself as an organ donor is important, but so is also making your wishes known to one and all.

"It's so important to make sure your family knows your wishes. So when that phone call might come [through the Iowa Donor Network], because it's quite a shock when that call comes, that they know what you would like to."

As for Ron:

"I feel great. Couldn't ask for a better friend."

According to the Iowa Donor Network, there are 600 people waiting for organ donations right now in Iowa as of February 1st.

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