Living Donor Benefits from Others’ Generosity

Tanisha Smith traveled to Illinois for a life-changing reason in July 2018. She was donating a kidney.

Tanisha is originally from Decatur, Ill., but now lives in Marietta, Ga., with her husband, Jamal, and five children. In 2015, she found out she was a kidney match to someone very close to her. She decided then that she would donate a kidney when the time came.

“If the situation was reversed I hope someone would do the same for me,” Tanisha said.

While demonstrating one of the greatest gifts of generosity, Tanisha also benefited from other people’s generosity. Proceeds from The Alan G. Birtch, MD Center for Transplant Services at Memorial 5K Run/Walk and donors to the Foundation’s Transplant Patient Assistance Fund helped pay for Tanisha’s gas expenses and her husband’s flight to central Illinois.

“Of course I would have donated no matter what. However, the assistance with my husband’s flight and gas back home was a huge relief,” she said. “It meant that we did not have to go into debt by putting the expense on a credit card. As you can imagine, funds can be tight for a family of seven.”

Besides transportation expenses for patients and living donors, the Transplant Patient Assistance Fund helps pay for groceries, lodging before and after surgery and prescription medications and copays.

Amy Manuele, MSW, LSW, transplant social worker, hears firsthand how appreciative patients are when they receive financial assistance.

“Even something as simple as a gift card to buy groceries creates an emotional reaction. The gratitude they express and their words of appreciation for the donors are heartfelt,” Manuele said.

Tanisha was involved with Memorial’s 965th kidney transplant. Since the program began more than 45 years ago, 976 kidney transplants have been performed at Memorial Medical Center.

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