Kendra Brooks - 63

Kendra Brooks w“I was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus and depression at the age of 12, and a few years later I was told I had to take medication for high blood pressure. The steroids I had to take for my lupus deteriorated my right hip bone, and I had to have a fibular graft in May of 2015.

“When I was 19, I woke up one morning and my face was unrecognizable because of the amount of fluid in my body. I went to the doctor several times, and I was treated for urinary tract infections each time, assuming it was a lupus flare-up. I was prescribed medication and sent home.

“The next day I went to my rheumatologist in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and he ran numerous tests to find out what was wrong with me. While my mom and I were on our way back home to Natchez, Mississippi, the rheumatologist called her and told her to get me to an emergency room as soon as possible because my kidneys had failed.

“On November 3, 2011, I had my first dialysis treatment at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg. I didn’t know what dialysis treatment was, so I wasn’t worried. I thought when I left the hospital the treatments would be over. When I learned that I would be on dialysis until I received a kidney, I was devastated.

“I was already on Mississippi’s and Louisiana’s kidney transplant lists when my mom and I came to UAB Hospital in July of 2015 for my kidney evaluation. That was when we learned about the UAB kidney chain.

“When we understood the details, we looked at each other in awe. We already knew we weren’t a match, but I did not want my mom to give a kidney because I did not want to see her go through the pain. My mother did not listen to me though, because she went behind my back and made an appointment for an evaluation. I did not know about her appointment until the night before she was supposed to fly to Birmingham. She called me one day and yelled in my ear, ‘Kendra! I’m on the list!’ We started yelling, crying and praising God. I was beyond happy. 

“Though I had already been waiting for a kidney for four and a half years, I just kept waiting patiently to get the call from UAB hoping it was going to be at least less than two more years of waiting. I kept praying for a kidney to come before Christmas 2015, but little did I know God had more in store for me. He was telling me the whole time to just be patient and let Him work his miracles. In February of 2016, my mom took me to Chili’s, one of my favorite restaurants, and while we were eating our appetizer, she pulled out a small gift box and told me she had been thinking about me. I opened the box and the letter inside was something that was going to change my life forever. The letter read ‘CONGRATULATIONS, POODY!!! God has answered our prayers. We have a match. Surgery is scheduled April 7, 2016.’ I cried puddles of tears of joy right in the middle of Chili’s. Everyone was staring at me, but I didn’t care. My loving mother was going to give a kidney so that I could receive one. It was so surreal. The entire night that I received my good news, I could not sleep at all.

“My birthday was April 5, which was the day I flew to Birmingham. Then on April 6, I checked into UAB, and I was so happy. I was smiling so hard all day long that my cheeks were aching. On April 7, right before my surgery, Dr. Jayme Locke — the best surgeon ever, by the way — asked if I had any special requests. My special requests were that I wouldn’t get any staples in my incision, and I asked her if she could take a picture of the kidney. She did both for me.

“My kidney donor is Nicholas Whitten. He is an amazing person, and I am so thankful that he was able to give me the gift of life. I promise to take care of  ‘Cydney the Kidney’ — yes, I named her — forever and ever to the best of my abilities.

“My life motto is and has always been “What God has for me, it is for me.”

Celebrating the nation's longest kidney chain

High-tech medicine and human kindness combine in UAB's ongoing kidney chain, a series of transplant surgeries that have given 101 people so far a new lease on life. The chain is the nation's longest ever.

The kidney chain has been kept going by many remarkable acts of sacrifice, and has revealed many moving stories of determination. Tyler Williamson went to TEDx Birmingham’s 2017 event in March expecting to be inspired and to network and make new connections with fellow attendees. What the 27-year-old did not anticipate was that inspiration would lead him to volunteer to become a living kidney donor just seven months later. See his story in this video:

In their words, stories from our transplant donors and recipients.

Kendra BrooksKendra Brooks. After more than four years of dialysis treatments, Kendra Brooks received her transplant in April 2016. Kendra’s mom donated a kidney so her daughter could receive one and wrote a letter to share the news. “It said, ‘God has answered our prayers. We have a match.’ I cried puddles of tears of joy,” Kendra says. Learn more about Kendra.

sheldon vaughn webSheldon Vaughn. High blood pressure and diabetes ravaged Sheldon Vaughn’s kidneys, and it was the kindness of two donors who helped him achieve a transplant. “A dialysis nurse my wife and I came to know wanted to donate to me, but wasn’t a match for me, and her kidney went to a woman in Florida. But because of her donation, I was able go on the UAB list and received my kidney from a young woman named Nicole who had contacted UAB and wanted to donate her kidney to anybody. So in a sense, I feel like I have two donors.” Learn more about Sheldon.

laura burks w Laura Burks. With a desire to help others, Laura Burks was looking for her next opportunity when a friend posted on her blog about how she was going to donate a kidney. “I thought, ‘That is what I need to do,’ Laura says. “Before that, I didn’t know you could be a loving donor. I thought it was something that happens after you pass away. After realizing that I could give away an organ that I don’t have to have to live with, I thought, ‘If I don’t do this, my life’s not complete.’ I just knew somebody needed a kidney and they’re depending on some stranger to give up theirs, and I was that stranger. Learn more about Laura.

William Harris w William Harris. High blood pressure caused William Harris’ kidneys to fail, and he was told he would eventually need a kidney transplant to live. After nine years of dialysis treatments, his wish came true. “When I was told I was a candidate to get a transplant, and that there was a match for me, I didn’t have any fears,” William says. “I was humbled to know that someone wanted to give me a kidney.” Learn more about William.

Become a part of the chain

Donate a kidney 
If you would like to donate to someone in need of a transplant, begin by filling out this form. You can learn more about kidney transplantation at UAB here.  

Get on the list
If you are in need of a kidney transplant, you will need a referral from your nephrologist. Your doctor can get all the details here.

Give a gift
Support the UAB Comprehensive Transplant Institute with a donation online .

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UAB Kidney Chain news

kidney chain 100 graphic kc siteNation’s longest single-site kidney chain reaches 100

To date, 101 living donors have changed the lives of 101 recipients as part of the nation’s longest ongoing single-center paired kidney transplant chain.

kc baseball thumbUAB baseball team helps Mississippi family cope with loss of father, husband

Young boy loses his dad, but finds many father figures on UAB's baseball team.

div kcFrom transplant lab worker to donor, employee becomes part of UAB’s world-record kidney chain

Divyank Saini is a UAB lab technologist and one of 17 employees who work behind the scenes at UAB Hospital to bring hope to those waiting on heart, lung, kidney, liver and other transplants. Saini made a decision that he wanted to do more than just his important work of interpreting lab samples to find the right matches. He decided to become a living donor and is UAB Kidney Chain donor No. 57. 

chalice kc2Science, generosity save lives in UAB Kidney Chain

Meet a family bound not by blood or name, but by their kidneys in the world’s longest living-donor kidney transplant chain. Discover how science and human kindness come together to save lives.

kc surgeryIncompatible, yet needed: What are incompatible kidney transplants? And why are they done?

The human body is primed to identify and destroy invaders like viruses, bacteria and other pathogens that can bring illness or death. Cells of the immune system and the antibodies they make recognize such foreign bodies and act to remove and destroy them. This defense system is a potential problem for kidney transplants. People have different blood groups and different human leukocyte antigens that can provoke an attack if a tissue, such as a kidney, or blood is transferred from one person to another. These two barriers are called blood group incompatibility and tissue (or histo-) incompatibility. A kidney transplant team uses the histocompatibility and blood bank testing laboratories to determine whether the tissues and blood group of a volunteer living kidney donor and the intended recipient match. A match is good, but matches are not always possible.

Jerry Phillips kcCommunity of the South: Donors help stretch UAB Kidney Chain to record 51 transplants

Fifty-first transplant means 102 total surgeries have been performed since December 2013 as the nation’s longest-ever chain continues to grow.

thompson kcNation’s longest kidney transplant chain reaches 34

The UAB kidney chain, which began December 2013 and expects more transplants in January 2015, ‘showcases the power of the human spirit in every aspect.’

nightline kcNation’s largest single-site kidney transplant chain underway at UAB

Since December, 21 living donor kidney transplants that have taken place at UAB are connected as donors “pay it forward” for a recipient to keep the chain going, and more transplants are scheduled for July.

locke press conferenceSnow can’t stop the Southeast’s largest kidney transplant chain at UAB

The unexpected 2014 snowstorm that crippled the Southeast did not deter the transplant team at UAB from continuing the largest nondirected donor chain ever performed at a single center in the Southeast. 

1080px UPDATE Kidney map 2018

The kidney chain has brought donors and recipients to UAB from across the eastern United States and as far away as Oregon.

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Learn more

dr locke video

UAB transplant surgeon Jayme Locke, M.D., and transplant nephrologist Vineeta Kumar, M.D., discuss living kidney donation and paired-kidney exchange in a series of videos on UAB's MD Learning Channel.