Donate Life Month: A Priceless Gift to a Stranger

It started with a Facebook post. A daughter’s plea for a kidney for her mom caught Greg Chandler’s attention and sparked his interest in being a donor.

A 4th grade math teacher at New Richmond Elementary School, Greg comments, “For many years, I felt like I wanted to do something like that.”

He contacted The Christ Hospital Health Network transplant program and filled out a packet of papers. When testing revealed that his kidney wasn’t a match for the woman, he agreed to enter a paired exchange program, where he would offer his kidney in exchange for a kidney for his partner.

“We waited about a year and a half,” Greg says. “Around July 2017, she got a direct match from an acquaintance — it was a perfect match for her. She didn’t need the paired exchange program anymore.”

That left Greg with the choice to remove himself from the program or to make his kidney available to anyone on the national registry with blood type A- and other matching characteristics.

“I made up my mind I wanted to do it,” he says. His wife and teenage daughter were fully supportive.

 “Some people would say ‘What happens if you need the kidney down the road for your wife or daughter?’ I didn’t want to base my decision on something that might never happen. My biggest fear was that something would keep me from doing it. I prayed for my health to stay good. Once I decided, I just wanted to get it done.”

Soon after, our transplant coordinator called to say a woman in Cleveland needed his kidney, and her husband had given one of his kidneys to help someone else.

The transplant team took him through some additional testing.

He notes, “They really did a great job of keeping me informed of how the process goes. They make sure you’re physically and mentally able to handle this. There was no uncertainty about anything.”

Donor Day

Greg went to The Christ Hospital on Oct. 11, 2017, to have his left kidney removed. “It was my donor day.
“The kids at school were really excited, and the school posted a sign by the road with ‘Good luck, Mr. Chandler.’”
Everything went well for both Greg and his kidney recipient. He spent two days in the hospital and returned to work in three weeks. “I had to build up my endurance again, but I was back to 100 percent in about six weeks,” he says.
Although Greg hasn’t met the woman who received his kidney, he feels lucky to have had the chance to donate it to her. “Along the way, I would pray for the person who would be a match for me. It was a neat feeling to help someone I didn’t know, but I knew their need.”

He concludes, “We’re given two kidneys, and you just need one to lead a healthy life. Why keep the spare if you can potentially save a life?”

Want to learn more about living kidney donation? Find answers to frequently asked questions, or call our kidney transplant team at 513-585-2493.