MSU alumna finds donor for second kidney transplant since 2009
When thinking about her future, two kidney transplants by the age of 37 were not in the cards for MSU alumna Anna Kaschner. After an autoimmune disease called Primary Focal Glomerulosclerosis wrecked her native kidneys, Kaschner remained hopeful for a donor.
"I'd never even been in the hospital ever once in my life," Kaschner said. "I figured I was a pretty healthy, normal 24-year-old."
According to the United Network for Organ Sharing website, a new name is added to the national transplant waiting list every 10 minutes. In addition, an average of 22 people die each day waiting for a transplant.
Five years after being put on dialysis and awaiting a donor, her first transplant took place in October 2009. The kidney came from a deceased donor.
"After I got better from that, I thought, 'Gosh, I have this second opportunity now to go out and live this really awesome healthy life," Kaschner said.
Four active, healthy years went by before the donated kidney began to show signs of failure. The average lifespan of a deceased organ is 12 to 15 years, she said, but not all organs reach the average.
"Even though it was very valuable, the kidney that I received, even though it was a very good match for me, it took some time to get it out of the person who was donating it into me," she said.
A lack in blood flow, no matter how short the amount of time, begins to deteriorate the organ, she explained. She needed a live kidney donor this time around.
Mason resident Tina Stewart had been following Kaschner's journey through Facebook when she said she felt like God tapped her on the shoulder and told her to be the live donor. Stewart told no one of her plans until she learned she was a compatible donor.
"When I first started testing my biggest thing was (that) I couldn't live with myself if something happened to her and her health kept getting worse and I sat back and did nothing," Stewart said.
This live donation improves the chances of being healthy longer, Kaschner said. Being her second transplant, she said she has faith this one will last longer because the blood flow will never cease.
"The fact that she's coming forward and doing this is the biggest, most important gift I'll ever receive," Kaschner said.
Just a few weeks ago, the two received notification that the transplant was accepted. Kaschner and Stewart are set to have their surgeries on Aug. 7. Because of the shaky first transplant, Kaschner said it has been hard to remain hopeful.
Kaschner came back to MSU to participate in the Bunny Hop! 5k for the National Kidney Foundation that occurred April 15.
Registration fees go toward the National Kidney Foundation to fund necessary research.
Kaschner was lucky enough to have not only one viable donor match, but now two.
"She needs to live longer," Stewart said.