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‘This was just what I was meant to do’: Local organ donor & recipient talk life after surgery

Local News

GREENVILLE, Wis. (WFRV) – In May, Local 5 brought you the story of Duane Dougherty and Shaina Carlson, two friends who were bonded for life after Shaina unexpectedly donated her kidney to Duane after six years of searching for a donor to help save his life.

Now, weeks after a successful kidney transplant, Local 5 is sitting back down with Duane and Shaina. “I had the surgery and I immediately felt well as soon as it was over, it was unbelievable,” said Duane.

“I feel really good,” said Shaina.

Shaina, 27, says she was able to return to work just a couple of weeks after surgery- an accomplishment that is remarkable in itself.

“It was very emotional because you don’t know if it will work or if there will be complications,” said Shaina, who recalled the moments before she was wheeled into the operating room. “I was at peace with my decision that this was just what I was meant to do,” said Shaina.

Back in May, Shaina had explained to Local 5 why she decided to become a living donor in the first place. “He’s a dad, he has kids. He deserves to be there for his grandkids, his daughter’s wedding, and all of those things,” said Shaina.

At the time, Duane’s daughter Zoey, who had created the “Kidney for Duane” Facebook page in 2015 to help in the search for a match, was in South Korea working as an English teacher and can still recall the moment she received the call about a perfect match.

“It took me a couple of days to really process what was happening because it didn’t feel real,” said Zoey Dougherty.

Zoey also expressed the immeasurable appreciation and admiration she feels for Shaina and her generous gift of life. “The whole process has been really hard on our family. My dad is one of my best friends, so for Shaina to make the sacrifice for my family…I can’t even explain the gratitude I feel,” said Zoey.

Asking Duane, what his life looked like now, Duane explained that the new normal for him is taking 15 medications a day to combat any rejection his body could develop with his new kidney. He also no longer has to go to dialysis, something that had become a routine for him before surgery.

“I am doing everything I can to protect my new kidney and I look forward to getting back to work soon,” said Duane.

And part of that work is to pay it forward and try to help other families. The Dougherty family shared one of the many things on their “to-do” list is to spread the word about living organ donation.

“Being a family member of someone who received that organ, it’s just an amazing feeling to know someone was out there to help save our family,” said Zoey. “You can give your kidney and it’s going to someone who needs it. It doesn’t necessarily go to someone you know, but you’re going to help out a life,” said Duane.

Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee is where Duane and Shaina had the transplant completed. The Health Resources and Services Administration has a complete guide on living organ donation. For more information, click here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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