Deanne Lockett - 39

Deanne Lockett“I was born diabetic. When I was younger, I didn’t know I had diabetes. As I got older, I found out I was a Type 1 diabetic. I went to the doctor one day with real bad pain in my stomach. They thought it might be my gallbladder. When they put the IV dye in me, my creatinine shot way up. The dye just shocked my kidneys. I never drank, never smoked; it was just something that happened.

“I had more problems, too. My diabetes caused neuropathy, arthritis, heart and eye problems — lots of things. I thank God I wasn’t a drinker and wasn’t a smoker because I really believe not doing those things helped me get through to where I am.

“I’m a strong person. I don’t cry too easily and I don’t complain. I don’t want my kids to think I need them to be there for me all the time or do something for me just because I’m complaining. So when my daughter, Jennifer, came to me one day and said, ‘I want to get tested to see if I can give you a kidney,’ I said no. I didn’t want her to lose a kidney to try and help me. She hadn’t had any children yet. I didn’t want her to have to put her life on hold for me.

“I did eventually have to go on dialysis, and I stayed on it for two years. One day, Jennifer told me, ‘You’re not momma no more. You’re too weak. Let me do this for you.’ She called UAB without me knowing and filled out an application to see if she could donate. She told me one day we had an appointment at UAB. I couldn’t believe she did; it. But when we went to UAB, I listened to everything they said. The coordinators were amazing. Everyone explained everything so well.

“Unfortunately, Jennifer didn’t match me. Both of us had blood transfusions. I had one when I had a child in 1996. She had to have one after tonsil surgery. That threw our antibodies off, and we didn’t match.

“We ultimately went into the paired donation program. UAB has some fine people. The doctors, they didn’t stop until they did everything they could to find a match for me. My coordinators, my doctors and nurses and surgeons, I can’t thank them enough. Everybody was in on this and played a part in my transplant.

“My donor wound up being William Chambers. We did not know each other, but we had actually been around each other several times. We met in clinic when we both had our initial appointments — him to donate and Jennifer and me getting tested. We both sat in the waiting room the day we were checking in and didn’t talk. I actually took a picture of my sister-in-law in the waiting room, and Mr. William was in the background of the picture. It was just God’s will.

“I can’t thank William enough for what he did. I can’t appreciate him enough. And the wonderful part about it, he did it because he wanted to help somebody. He was a God-giving person. He had no reason to do it, but he did it anyway. He did it from his heart.

“He didn’t know I was a Type 1 diabetic until I told him, and he said that’s what he wanted to do — donate to a Type 1 diabetic.

“We try to keep in touch with other. I just bought a card to send to him and thank him again. He and his wife were so wonderful. I have had so many surgeries, and God has always been there to walk me through it. To me, William is a hero. And my daughter is, too. She stepped up to help her momma.

“Jennifer started this process when she was 26. She wanted to help me, but I kept telling her no. I have a wonderful, wonderful daughter — two of them, actually. My other daughter, Kendra, wanted to give me a kidney, too, but she has asthma. My son, Kentrel, wasn’t old enough, and he has bad migraines. I have three wonderful kids, and they all wanted to do it for me. I told God, ‘You’ve always told me I’d know when I did right.’ Well, I know I’ve done right, because my kids are wonderful. They all graduated with honors from high school and my two daughters graduated with honors from college. My son just started college. They’re just great kids, and I know they wanted to do it because I’ve been through a lot. I have had a lot of surgeries, but I’m so blessed. I have no complaints. God is always with 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.


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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. 


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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.