One day, Missy Makinia was on Facebook when something caught her attention. There was a little girl in her town of Ladysmith, Wisconsin who needed a kidney.
“My daughter look at me and said, ‘You know mom, you would match up with her blood type,’ Makinia said. “So, I called the hospital where she was working through and that’s how the process started.”
Makinia underwent a number of blood and other preliminary tests to start the donation process. But then, the little girl ended up getting matched with another donor. Her transplant was moving forward with someone else.
“I felt I’d gone so far through the process,” Makinia said. “Ok, that’s fine. I’ve come this far. I’m not going to stop.”
Makinia continued working with UW Health to make sure her kidney would go to someone else in need.
“I have so many donors tell me this is the best thing they’ve ever done,” said Dr. Josh Mezrich, Makinia’s transplant surgeon. “Because they’re saving these lives — it is like the kind of person who’d run into a burning building to save someone.”
Mezrich said the risks are low for donors and they do, “very, very well.” But since it’s surgery, it can still be painful and recovery can take about a month.
Makinia shared her story with our colleagues at To The Best Of Our Knowledge from WPR and PRX. In regards to her recovery process…
Back at home in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, Missy Makinia has been considerably more humble about her kidney becoming part of someone else.
“I don’t even think about it. I just hope that their life is more enjoyable. I always want to help people,” says Makinia, assuring producer Shannon Henry Kleiber that the kidney was performing admirably.
“I’m just in awe of how easy things were, and how it went. And how I feel now — I feel great, and at peace. I’m glad that I could save somebody’s life.”
Check out TTBOOK’s full story, “Would You Give Your Kidney to a Stranger?” to hear more about the donation process from Makinia, learn what drives Dr. Mezrich to be a surgeon, and to hear what it’s like to be in the operating room during surgery.
Story produced by Shannon Henry Kleiber, sound design by Joe Hardtke, and edited for Wisconsin Life by Brad Kolberg. Anne Strainchamps is the host of TTBOOK.