Friday, March 25, 2011

Awareness of a Different Kind

Normally my posts revolve around Cameran and what she is doing, or incorporate advocacy for Down syndrome. 

This post is different.  This post advocates, but for another type of need. 

Living Organ Donation.

The following is a letter I drafted and then sent to various media junkets in the area.  Within a day, two have responded, one being a confirmation of a future news story.  I hope that people will see what a selfless gift that Bettyann is providing to my mom, and that no possible words can convey how thankful and grateful we are to her and her family.  I cannot wait to see how the final newspaper story turns out!

To Whom It May Concern,

At a time when news is bleak, patrons cling to the rays of hope that come from uplifting human interest stories and other such pieces.

Next Tuesday, March 29, 2011, a voluntary kidney transplant will take place at Pinnacle Health’s Harrisburg Hospital. My mother Barbara Dohler, 53, of Shrewsbury will be receiving a new kidney from Bettyann Russell, 52, of Baltimore.

Barbara’s family history of Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is so dominant that it has not missed a generation in over four. Both of her uncles have battled this disease to the point of dialysis and transplantation, and her sister also is afflicted with PKD as well. Barbara’s father had an emergency double kidney removal in 1997 and lived the rest of his life on dialysis until his death on March 29, 2004.

What makes this a remarkable human interest story is two-fold. One aspect is the general raising of awareness about the importance of kidney donation, or any donation, whether voluntary or post-mortem. A second noteworthy aspect to this story is the manner in which Bettyann came to be Barbara’s life-saving donor.

As teenagers Barbara befriended Bettyann, the new kid on the block. Their friendship blossomed over the years, Bettyann serving as a bridesmaid at Barbara’s wedding. As they each began new lives with their respective families, they stayed in contact. Years turned into decades and the two continued to correspond via lengthy Christmas card letters.

During recent years Bettyann would inquire about Barbara’s kidney functioning. Barbara’s kidney functioning has technically been considered “kidney failure” for well over a year, but not wanting to begin dialysis Barbara remained resilient to her fatigue and other bodily symptoms that accompany PKD.

At Christmas of 2010 Bettyann asked the same question of Barbara. This time Barbara admitted that time was running out before needing to begin dialysis and shared that her first potential donor was unable to follow through with testing for compatibility. Bettyann responded by stating that she would like to be tested to see if she could be a kidney donor. She wanted Barbara to regain energy and be able to spend time with her two year old grandchild as well as be able to help her daughter with the arrival of a second grandchild in September. After the holidays she would speak to her husband and children to be sure she had their blessing. She did. January’s preliminary test proved the two were compatible and the rest of January and February was spent undergoing extensive medical physicals to be sure that Bettyann was physically well enough to donate.

This coming Tuesday, the two will arrive at Harrisburg Hospital and begin their journey to surgery. Both patients. One recipient. One selfless donor.

March 29th. The circle of renewed life for Barbara on the 7th anniversary of her father’s death.

Thank you for your consideration in using this as a feature.

Respectfully submitted,


Bettyann and Barbara

Donor and Recipient

Enjoying Cameran's 2nd birthday

Babysteps (Don't mind the husband in the background--and what it is he is doing with his tongue and cheek, I have not a clue!)

Have a great weekend!


  1. wonderful story! i am an organ donor and have signed up to be a bone marrow donor. i would like to think that someone out there is ready if we need them so i should be ready for them.

  2. How amazing. I hope that it is covered by your local news. Praying for your mom and Bettyann.

  3. Great story! I donated my kidney on March 8th of this year and although I was at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital my recipient was at Pinnacle Hospital in Harrisburg PA just like your Mom. It has been an amazing journey and at a little over 3 weeks since the surgery I am feeling great.


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