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84-YEAR-OLD NONCHALANTLY BECOMES NATION’S OLDEST LIVING KIDNEY DONOR AFTER SEEING HIS NEIGHBOR’S YARD SIGN
72-year-old Linda Nall had done everything to try and find herself a kidney donor. She had created a Facebook page, printed tee-shirts, and even put up a sign in her yard with an appeal for an O-blood type donor. Ever since Nall’s kidneys started to fail as a result of lupus, she had kept the sign up in her yard in hopes of attracting a donor – and for 18 months, she did not have any luck until Frank Dewhurst drove by in April.
Since Dewhurst is a notorious member of the homeowners’ association in their town of Wimberly, Texas, Nall feared that he had showed up on her doorstep to tell her to take the sign down. Instead, he told her that the sign had inspired him to donate his own kidney.
“The sign read ‘I am type O and I need a kidney transplant. Please help me.’ So after talking it over with my wife, I told her she could have mine,” Dewhurst said in a statement. “After undergoing a number of tests, I was cleared to donate and very happy to do so.”
Upon undergoing a successful surgery at Houston Methodist Hospital, Dewhurst became the oldest living kidney donor in the country at 84 years old. Not only that, the spry octogenarian was discharged from the hospital 48 hours after the surgery and quickly returned to his regular exercise routine.
Hassan Ibrahim, who is the chief of kidney diseases at the Hospital, says that he hopes Dewhurst’s story will inspire other people to become organ donors regardless of their age.
“Besides Mr. Dewhurst, we have taken kidneys from an 80-year old, 79-year old and other donors in their late 60s and early 70s,” Ibrahim said. “They receive a full workup to make sure they are physically strong enough to donate. If everything checks out, there is no reason to keep them from saving someone’s life. In 2018, 5 percent of kidney donors nationally were older than 65. If more older adults donated, fewer people would remain on the list.”
The best use of these older kidneys is to transplant them into older patients. Ibrahim says that if you transplanted an 80-year-old kidney into a 20-year-old and that person lived to age 60, the kidney would be 140 years old; but for someone like Linda Nall, who could have spent years on the waiting list, Dewhurst’s donation was perfect.
“I can’t wait to spend more time with family and friends and just socialize more,” Nall said. “I have lived a long time not being able to eat what I want to eat and do what I want to do. I am going to make the most of Frank’s generous gift and live life to the fullest. I cannot wait.” Dewhurst, on the other hand, was very blasé about his life-saving decision. “No big deal,” he told the Houston Chronicle. “I’m healthy and had what she needed, a functioning kidney. She wasn’t getting any better without one.”