As a 16-year-old, Brittany Elways spent her free time playing volleyball and softball. She was quite active and initially unphased by a diagnosis of urinary reflux. Unfortunately, the damage to Elways’ ureters had also impacted her kidney function. Surgery fixed Elways’ urinary reflex, but she was left with a diagnosis of end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). It was time to think about what came next in treating her ESKD – life-sustaining dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Elways had an educated guide throughout this process as her mother, Trisha Minton, had decades of experience as a dialysis patient care technician. Minton understood the challenges Elways would face for the rest of her life. The two discussed living kidney donation and agreed that it could be the best option.
According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, the kidney is the most commonly transplanted organ from a living donor. In 2019, more than 6,000 people became living kidney donors.
“It really didn’t cross my mind to not give Brittany anything I could,” Minton said.
Over the next year, the two underwent medical exams, physiological evaluations and blood tests to find out Minton was a good medical match for her daughter. In September 2008, they underwent transplant surgery. Elways didn’t realize how bad kidney failure had made her feel until she woke up following surgery and felt completely transformed.
More than ten years after her surgery, Elways is in good health with strong kidney function. She is attending nursing school while working as a patient care technician at DaVita Kidney at Home in Baltimore. After working at the same dialysis center for 25 years, her mom has relocated to a new center to work as a nocturnal patient care technician.
“My mom truly gave me the gift of life for a second time,” recalled Elways. “I’m very lucky to have a great mom who realized the value of being a living donor!”
Facts about living donation:
- Living kidney donors must be in good overall physical and mental health and be 18 years of age or older.
- All potential donors will go through several medical, financial and psychiatric evaluations to determine if they are a good donor match.
- There are three types of living donation:
- Directed donation to a specific recipient.
- Kidney paired donation, or kidney exchange, where living donor kidneys are swapped between multiple candidate pairs to ensure compatible transplants.
- Non-directed donation to an unnamed transplant recipient.
Learn more about being an organ donor at OrganDonor.gov.