Friday, November 3, 2006
OU student honored for organ donationBy Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
This October, Oakland University student Staci Allen was honored by Beaumont Hospital for giving her brother a priceless gift — life. Three years ago, Allen donated one of her kidneys to her older brother whose kidneys started to fail. With her brother making a near-perfect recovery, Allen is now focusing on her education and preparing to become an elementary school teacher.
After watching her brother go through dialysis for a year, Allen decided to see if she could donate one of her kidneys to him. After a lot of tests, they found out they were a match.
“My family has always been close. My brother and I are the closest in age but this obviously brought us even closer,” said Allen, who also has two older sisters and two younger half-sisters.
The day before her 25th birthday, Allen and her brother were prepped for surgery. In order to remove her kidney, an incision was made across her back and side. Doctors had to remove two ribs to get to the organ. During the surgery, they noticed an usual lymph node and spent a few extra hours working to remove that, but otherwise the surgery ran smoothly.
“It took eight to nine weeks before I was recovered. Even now I don’t sleep on that side because it still gets sore. But it gave my brother the chance at a better life,” Allen said.
Allen said her brother “takes more medication than anyone I know,” but her donated kidney is functioning at 100 percent. Her brother developed diabetes after the transplant, which can occur in some patients, but he has since outgrown it and is living a relatively normal life.
Beaumont held the recognition ceremony to thank the donors and the hospital staff for making so many transplants successful. Allen said she was able to talk to other donors and recipients about their experiences. She said the hospital had all of the donors sign a picture of a green ribbon, which symbolizes kidney donation, that will be hung in the hospital. Allen said Beaumont also plans to construct a donor memorial recognition garden on the hospital grounds.
Allen’s family is from Alpena and she and her brother had the surgery at Beaumont in Royal Oak. Allen had a friend from the metro Detroit area and decided to move to the area and attend Oakland University to pursue a degree in early childhood education — giving more of herself to others as a teacher.
“I love working with little kids,” said Allen, who has worked for a number of years at a daycare center. “You teach them something new every day. When they do something new or learn something new, they get this look on their face. It’s hard to describe, but it’s awesome.”
After she graduates in April, Allen will begin looking for work in the kindergarten to second grade environment.
Allen said she encourages all students to explore organ donation because there are many people out there on waiting lists.
“I would encourage everyone to at least look into it. It only takes a few weeks to get your life back and it gives someone else a new chance at life,” Allen said.