April Brooks - 22

April Brooks“Kandy Baker is my childhood friend, and when she told me her mom, Diane Simmons, was in stage-four kidney failure, I talked to my husband and prayed about it, and eventually decided that I needed to get tested to see if I could help.

“My husband, Michael, told me if that was something I felt like I needed to do, then I should do it. He didn’t think I would pass and be considered a candidate anyway!

“I emailed Kandy and told her that if none of her family members matched, then I wanted to get tested. Turns out that no one else in her family was qualified, so Kandy asked if I was still willing to go forward with the testing. Of course I still wanted to do it, but unfortunately, I was not a direct match for Ms. Diane — but I agreed to be part of the paired donor program so she could receive her kidney. I wanted to do it in honor of her because she is such a vibrant person and still has so much life ahead of her.

“After deciding to do it and going through the tests and being selected, I was a little bit in shock at first because it happened so quickly. I had to have a couple of months reprieve because my oldest daughter was having a baby, and I wanted to be available for her, and I was afraid of being in recovery and trying to help her at the same time. As God’s timing works, it was the right thing for me to wait because my new grandbaby spent several days in NICU. Ms. Diane received her kidney on May 22, and I went in to donate on July 10.

“For me, even though there was a lot of time between when Ms. Diane received her kidney and when I donated, I went through with it because it was about obedience to God. It was what needed to be done, and it was that simple. In my mind it wasn’t that big of a deal. I realize it is a big deal to many people. It is. But in my heart, it was what I had to do.

“I was still scared to death when it came down to it. I got really sick after the surgery, and I think it was from the medicine. It was a tough first day-and-a-half, but I’m doing fine now. I’m probably healthier now than I’ve ever been. I’ve lost 25 pounds since my surgery and I’m eating healthier taking care of the one kidney I do have. If anything, it’s made me acutely aware of my body and keeping it free of as many toxins as possible.

“Meeting Mr. Peebles, the gentleman who received my kidney — that was special. There was not a dry eye in the hospital room. After meeting him, it was just like, ‘Yeah. This is why I went through with it.’ He was such a special case. He’d already been on dialysis, already had a transplant and so many other things. I know it worked out the way it was supposed to. We’ve talked several times since then, and he’s just a special person and has a special family.

“To see where this chain is and how far it has gone — it’s overwhelming to be a part of it. I set out to help Ms. Diane, and wound up helping Mr. Peebles, too, and in turn, I’ve helped all of these people to come behind them — all because I said I would do it. I would give a thousand kidneys if I were able to. It really is bigger than just you. We are all on earth to do something bigger than ourselves, and it feels good when you actually have an opportunity to do just that.”

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 .

2018 By the Numbers Kidney Chain 600px

Dr Locke quote

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.

KC How it Works 1 9

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.