The gift of donating an organ - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

The gift of donating an organ

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BILLINGS, Mont. -

We're nearing the end of National Donate Life Month. KULR-8 met a couple of people whose lives have been impacted through the power of organ donation. According to Penny Cliffton, the chairman of the Donate Life Council at St. Vincent Healthcare, Montanans have the highest rate of donor registration and it's no surprise why.

"We found out that his kidneys were going into rejection mode," Marie Fite said.

Marie Fite's world changed last week, with the news that her 18-year-old son, Nathaniel, is in renal failure, chronic kidney disease as the result of Alport syndrome. It's a genetic condition that causes kidney failure and it runs in her family.

"I'm most scared of them not being able to fix him or finding out that it's not the genetic disease," Fite said. "Or that it may be something worse off."

She said donating an organ, such as a kidney, is a relatively easy process and one she's familiar with.

"My dad gave me my kidney 13 years ago at Mayo Clinic," Fite replied. "He was out of the hospital in less than 24 hours."

Penny Cliffton said relatives are more likely to become matches to those needing an organ.

"Patients often time have similar tissue types and can donate a kidney to a cousin or a kidney to a brother or a kidney to a parent."

Fite said Nathaniel has a twin brother, as well as an older brother, ready to donate their kidney.

"He's going to be healed," Fite said.

Lori Heimbichner found out a coworker's daughter was in need of a kidney and did not hesitate to see if she could help.

"To see a mother's despair like that, I just said 'well, what do we need to do,' " Heimbichner said.

Heimbichner took the steps needed to donate and during the process, the little girl found a donor. But Heimbichner discovered she was a match for another person and decided to donate her kidney to him.

"Kidney disease and people who need an organ, we can do something about that," Heimbichner stated. "Yes, it's a big surgery. Yes, there are risks like with anything, but the end result is - I have a new family out in Washington."

Now that Nathaniel is in need of a kidney, his mother is fighting for her son. She said donating an organ is a worthwhile gift.

"When you have a love for somebody and you want them to live, then you endure that pain for a few weeks to give them new life," Fite said.
If you are considering donating an organ, you can check out http://www.donatelife.net

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