As organ transplants become increasingly common, it’s easy to forget how truly remarkable they are. With each successful organ transplant, a life is saved, fear is vanquished by hope, and a community of friends and family rejoices. We asked readers to tell us how organ donation and transplants have touched their lives. Here are their stories.
KENTWOOD — Two weeks before he graduated from Ferris State University, Ryan Brenner lay in an operating room at Saint Mary’s Health Care while doctors removed one of his kidneys for an organ transplant. The recipient: his mother’s cousin.
“I knew she needed it,” says Brenner, 22. “And I know I don’t need two of them.”
“God worked through him,” says Sandy Lofquist, a 54-year-old mother of two and grandmother of six. As she recovers from the Dec. 6 transplant, she says she is looking forward to “just getting back to normal.”
Lofquist was on disability for several years from her job working banquets and cleaning as she coped with a rare condition known as dense deposit disease. In April 2008, she went on dialysis and began the wait for a kidney transplant.
She was stunned when she learned Brenner had undergone testing and found out he was a good match as a donor. Brenner, who had not even told his parents, broke the news to her one Sunday on the way to church.
A registered organ donor since he was 16, Brenner says the decision was not difficult. He knew a couple of family members could not be donors because of age or because they were not a good match. He also knew Lofquist’s parents had lost their son, Randy, in a motorcycle accident 30 years ago.
“I didn’t want them to have to bury both kids, so I figured if I could help them out, I would,” Brenner says.
He bounced back quickly from the operation. He was able to take part in his graduation Dec. 18, and he soon returned to his job and working out at the gym — with some restrictions.
Lofquist experienced a couple of setbacks but is improving steadily and looking forward to returning to work.
Although they are part of a big, close family, Brenner says the two were not particularly close before the transplant — but they are now.
“Ryan’s my hero,” Lofquist says. “He’s wonderful.”