GUYTON, GA (WTOC) - If the ultimate symbol of Valentine’s Day is a red rose, then the ultimate symbol for National Living Donor Day, which is Thursday, is a blue surgical gown.
A married couple from Guyton is celebrating both holidays. Frances and Steve Todd live with dozens of rescue farm animals. They’ve also both rescued people, by becoming living donors. Two years ago, Steve donated his kidney to his son in law.
“I gave him a gift and it was not taken lightly, it was prayed over,” Steve Todd said.
A year later, after her friend passed away from lupus, Frances Todd decided to donate one of her kidneys to someone in need.
“Just felt like I was being called to do something bigger than me, and you know, when you feel that strong tug, you don’t say no,” Frances Todd said.
While some living donors like Steve know their kidney recipient, many people, like Frances, don’t, but she got to meet her kidney recipient 48 hours before her surgery. Fighting back tears, Frances explained their soon to be physical connection turned into an emotional connection that lead to a real friendship.
“When we met that night it was…you know you can’t…you can’t describe that,” she said.
The Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL performed both of the Todd family’s transplant surgeries. Dr. Dana Perry is a transplant surgeon with Mayo and says she loves working with living donors.
“Potential living donors are the most generous, selfless group of people you’ve ever met. Who wouldn’t want to work with that every day?” says Dr. Perry.
Dr. Perry wants more people to participate.
“People should consider becoming a living donor because there aren’t enough deceased donors to go around. There are many people dying on the waiting list or being removed from the waiting list because they get too sick while they’re waiting,” Dr. Perry said.
On this Valentine’s Day And National Living Donor Day, the Todd’s say they’re happy to help raise awareness about being living donors because they say it’s been a blessing to them to give up an organ and save the life of another person.
“The ultimate gift is to be able to help in anyway and improve somebody’s life or actually save someone’s life, so I think it’s perfect that it falls on Valentine’s Day," Frances Todd said.
“And it lasts longer than flowers," Steve added.
Because of Steve’s donation, his son in law is happy, healthy, and just gave them a second grandchild!
Below we have an extended interview with Dr. Dana Perry from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL.