Denise Prewitt - 36

Denise Prewitt and Marvin WynnDenise Prewitt donated her kidney to Marvin Wynn“I have always been a donor. It’s on my driver’s license. I even have this little poem written that I want read when I die that basically says anybody can have anything of mine that they can use. And whatever is left, I don’t care if you use it for fertilizer to make the flowers grow, just feel free to use it. Anything that can be used, use it. But to have the opportunity to see someone be able to take advantage of something I could give — that would be the ultimate!

“I’ve always been a blood donor and plasma donor. If I can give, then I definitely want to.

“Several years ago, when I was a teenager or in my early 20s, one of my cousins had to have a kidney transplant. Back then there wasn’t anything like what they are doing now. The fact that you don’t have to give up your whole life to do something like donating a kidney is just amazing to me.

“I donated on behalf of Marjorie Wilhite. Amy Vice is Marjorie’s daughter; we work together, and she’s a good friend of mine. I approached them to see what I could do to help when I learned her mother had to have a kidney. She was amazed and shocked that I would do that, but I wish we could have had a camera on us the day I found out I was going to be able to donate for her. When Amy came to work, I met her on the steps and said, ‘Guess what? Your mom is going to get a kidney.’ And we both immediately went to tears and were hugging and screaming. It was a big celebration.

“Her mom had waited a year, and there were many people trying to become eligible to donate on her behalf. It was a relief for Amy and her mom when I was able to be her donation partner, and it was a joy for me. It was a joy that I was going to be able to help her. I wanted to be able to give directly to her, but if I couldn’t, then I felt like I would be playing a small part in helping her be able to do it.

“I understand that I am the donor who has waited the longest to donate as part of the chain — the longest bridge donor. Ms. Marjorie had her surgery in the Spring of 2014, and I donated on March 18, 2015.

“My family was leaving the next day for Disney World when I got the call that they had a potential match for me. I guess it would have been easy to put it off, or say no, but UAB was willing to send the testing kit to our hotel, so I was able to take care of everything from Orlando after I found a facility that was willing to draw the blood for me.

“Within a couple of weeks, we were headed to Birmingham for surgery. 

“The staff at UAB was awesome! On our first day there, I asked if it was possible to meet my recipient, and was told that was up to him. I told them that I did not have to — it wasn’t going to keep me from donating — but that I sure would love to. So, my last day there, they set up a meeting. It was very emotional for Marvin and me. We hugged like old friends, promised to keep in touch, and instantly became family. He calls to check on me, and I do the same with him. I think about him all the time. I think the difference in our sizes (I am 5 feet tall and he is 6-foot-6) caused him a slower recovery, but he seems to be getting better every day. 

“Marvin came to the doctor’s office to meet me after one of my follow-up appointments at UAB. We were also able to spend a few minutes together at the donor picnic, and we do talk on the phone quite often. We consider each other to be family now. As a matter of fact, we are always careful to say, ‘I love you,’ at the end of our conversations.

“As soon as Marvin is able to travel, he plans to come spend a few days with us in South Alabama. He wants to be sure that he comes to church with me. I look forward to the time we can spend a whole day together and get to share more of our lives with each other. 

“I also keep up with Ms. Marjorie. She is the oldest living recipient. She seems to be doing very well, too.

“I have been raised to believe that promises are to always be kept — don’t make one that you can't or won't keep. When I was tested to see if I would be a match for Ms. Marjorie, I had every intention of being a donor. After being told that I was not a match for her, but she would get a kidney if I would agree to donate, there was never any question in my mind that this would happen. 

“This chain is just amazing to me, totally wonderful. God has blessed so many people through this and I pray that it will continue forever. I think the program itself is such a blessing to so many people, people who may not otherwise have an opportunity. It’s just fantastic.” 

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.