Saving Lives

It was June 2016, and Reney Lorditch, 62, of Evergreen, was waiting to die. Her kidneys were rapidly failing, and it took all her energy just to climb down the stairs from her bedroom in the morning and back up in the evening. A former English teacher at Red Rocks Community College, she could no longer drive or participate in activities outside her home. She had been waiting for a kidney transplant and was number one on the list. But her time was running out.

Her nephrologist was retiring and handing her over to a new doctor. “I was hoping you’d get a new kidney before I retired,” he said as he gave her a hug. Just then, his office phone rang. Reney began walking out the door when he called her back. “It’s for you,” he said.

The call was from Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. “We think we have a kidney for you. Go home and pack, and we’ll call you later this evening if it’s a match,” the hospital official said.

At seven the next morning, Reney and her husband, Scott, were on the plane to Los Angeles, and by noon, Reney was on the operating table to receive her new kidney. Recovery was hard, but “every day it got better,” Reney says. They spent three months in Los Angeles as Reney went for regular follow up care.

“The transplant gave me back my life, my health, my everything,” Reney says. “I am full of energy again and looking for ways to help people.”

Her donor was a 50-year-old man whose death and organ donations helped Reney and five others get a new lease on life. While Reney’s donor had died, many living people offer a kidney to save others – whether family or strangers. In fact, Reney’s husband and son had offered their kidneys but neither was a suitable match.

“People can live easily with one kidney,” Reney says, “and I don’t see a downside for the donor. You are giving someone’s life back at a small cost to you.”

Every year, organ and tissue transplants provide lifesaving and healing hope to tens of thousands of people suffering from disease, injury, trauma or blindness. For the thousands of people diagnosed every year with life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, and autoimmune diseases like sickle cell anemia, blood stem cell transplants offer a cure.

Congregation Beth Evergreen will host a panel on “Saving Lives: Transplant Donor Education Day,” from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6 at the synagogue, 2981 Bergen Peak Drive, Evergreen. The event is free and open to the public.

The panel will include Reney, a bone marrow donor, and representatives from Donor Alliance, the federally designated nonprofit recognized leader in facilitating organ and tissue donations; the National Marrow Donor Program, a nonprofit manager of a worldwide network of organizations facilitating blood stem cell transplants; and Love Hope Strength, a local and international nonprofit host of marrow donor drives.

The panelists will explain and answer questions about the need for and ease of registering to be a potential donor. Learn about the various procedures and options for being a donor and making lifesaving transplants possible. Learn how you can impact and save lives. You will be able to register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor, and a bone marrow donor at the event.

For more information, please call Beth Evergreen, 303-670-4294.

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