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Lifesaving Gift Made Possible Through Kindness of a Classmate

DES MOINES, Iowa –It's a lifesaving gift thousands of people across the country wait for every day. One Iowa State graduate student didn't have to wait long for the lifesaving organ transplant, thanks to the kindness of a classmate.

At first, Kate Dostart just thought she was feeling the effects of stress from graduate school, but she soon couldn’t ignore symptoms of fatigue and loss of appetite. "In January of last year, I ended up in the ER, and I was diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy, which is a kidney disease, and I didn't realize I had it."

She had stage five chronic kidney disease. She immediately went on dialysis and then started looking for a kidney donor. "It was amazing to see all the people who asked me about looking into how to become a donor," Kate said.

Leslie Day was in Peru when she saw Kate's post about her illness on Facebook. The two had met at Iowa State while working on their Masters degrees in architecture. "I would definitely say we were friends, but we didn't spend tons and tons of social time together," said Kate.

But, Leslie felt a calling to give Kate one of her kidneys. "My dad passing the same day she was diagnosed. He actually died from kidney failure. Kind of for me, God saying, do for Katherine what you can't do for your dad," said Leslie.

On September 14th, the women had their surgeries at Iowa Methodist Transplant Center. Leslie said, “I don't think I could continue my life knowing that she's needing something that I have, and I'm just not going to give it to her. Why not?"

More than 100,000 people across the country are waiting for a kidney transplant.  500 are waiting here in Iowa. Dr. Qasim Chaudhry said a living donor is really the best option. "We know if we get a living donor kidney that kidney will last 20 years. That's the half-life of a living donor kidney. The half-life of a deceased donor kidney is approximately 8 to 10 years."

Dr. Chaudhry is the Director of the Iowa Methodist Transplant Center. 70 patients had transplants there last year, which is the most. Dr. Chaudhry said the center has the shortest wait time in the country.

Kate is thankful she found a match with Leslie. Leslie said, "I know some people say that I did something for her, but I think this whole experience has done so much for me."

Kate and Leslie plan to participate in a 5k to raise awareness about organ, eye and tissue donation.  It's called the Green 5k Fun Run and Walk. It's put on by the Iowa Donor Network and My Angel Foundation. It's May 6th in Waukee.

You can learn more about the living donation process through the Iowa Methodist Transplant Center.