Derek Lambert - 15

“For 36 years I have benefited from the appropriate function of two kidneys. Honestly, I never gave much thought toward ownership of my kidneys before. What is it they say? ‘Possession is nine-tenths of the law?’

“Having been born with two kidneys, it would stand to reason they would both be mine. Mine completely, not just nine-tenths. And then one day, out of the blue, my reasoning began to break down.

“My friend Michael Little has battled kidney disease in excess of three decades. He has lived a normal life, raising a family, earning a living and serving the Lord. Yet this problem was always there. The potential need of transplant almost certainly plagued him at times. Four years ago, the potential need became reality and a transplant was performed from a deceased donor. Then, days after the transplant, he developed a blood clot which led to the loss of the kidney.

“Once the dust settled he was instructed by his doctors to invite friends and family to consider donating on his behalf in the future. I cannot remember a formal request from him; I believe it was more informal. He simply asked in casual conversations to join him in prayer that God would prompt people to be tested.

“As his pastor, I considered it an honor to pray with and for him. I thought we would see God make provision and together we would be able to celebrate the great gift of God. God had convinced me of his ability to do whatever He desires because of events that happened in my family’s life. I believed God would provide for Mickey, because I knew he would.

“I cannot pinpoint exactly when it happened necessarily, but one day my prayer changed. I was not just asking God to prompt people to volunteer, I began asking if He would allow me to donate. I had heard of others giving and leading normal lives afterward. So my prayer changed. ‘God, if I am able to give, please find me willing to give.’

“After a period of time, I believe God opened the door for me to donate. I discussed it with my wife and we wrestled with the idea. We struggled with the ‘what ifs,’ but we finally agreed. If I were to be found able, we were willing.

“Five people actually volunteered to be donated. Three were immediately declined for various reasons, and it was quickly discovered that the two of us left were not matches. We were then invited to join the paired donation program at UAB, and accepted.

“Several years lapsed, and UAB would contact me occasionally to inquire about my willingness to remain in the program. On March 10, 2014, UAB contacted me and asked me to come to Birmingham as quickly as possible. They had found the perfect kidney for my friend. They needed to determine who would donate in his name. After the two of us that still remained were tested, I was approved.

“Whose kidney is it anyway? Apparently it’s not mine. I believe God allowed me to benefit from this left kidney for 36 years, yet not as the owner, but more of a steward. The kidney is Mickey’s. God entrusted it to me for a period, but I believe he knew all along it actually belonged to Mickey.

“I count this opportunity as one of the greatest of my life. I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t seek it out. I believe God invited me to it. He long ago determined that this kidney would be transplanted into Mickey’s body and give him life. What a beautiful gift from God.

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.