Logo for: National Kidney Registry

My Donor Story: Kearney Murphy

Kearney Murphy

I had always heard about organ donation, but I thought you had to donate to someone you were related to. Then I met Stephanie through a Bible study group, who was about to have her second kidney transplant.

A friend of her mother donated on Stephanie’s behalf and she was able to receive a life-giving kidney transplant. Praying for Stephanie through her surgery and recovery and learning about living donors like hers planted a seed in my mind. I started thinking to myself, “Hey, I think I could do that.”

In August 2021, I listened to a podcast about kidney donation during my lunch hour. I was really struck by something the man said, that we’re all walking around with a spare tire, walking right by thousands of people with a flat tire that we can help. I signed up with the National Kidney Registry that same day.

After doing all the bloodwork, the 24-hour urine test and a colonoscopy, I was approved in the beginning of February. At first I wanted to find a recipient on my own but that became very stressful. You read all the stories and you think, gosh I only have one. Then the center told me that if I left the matching up to the NKR, I could maybe be part of a chain and help even more people. That meant a lot to me, so I decided to let them pick the best match for me.

I had the surgery on April 13, 2022, at Wake Forest Baptist in Winston-Salem. I went back to work on Memorial Day and was back to normal by July 4th.

Everyone has their own reason to donate. For me, the most powerful thing was hearing my pastor talk about having a “calling.” I always associated a calling with something related to a ministry or church, but I came to realize that a calling can be a gift you have, a talent, something you are passionate about, your purpose. And I realized that I really do have a calling: I’m here to help people.

I found that I enjoy my work as a hygienist much more knowing my purpose, my calling, is to help others have better health by having a clean and healthy mouth. I come into contact with many people at work and know firsthand my patients’ medical histories and health challenges.

From this, I can see how fortunate I am that He has blessed me with very good health throughout all of my 50+ years. My kidney donation was my way of sharing the gift of my health with someone else who is struggling with theirs.

I only started telling people what I was doing in February, then I kept hearing about other people who needed a kidney donor when I was already committed to my recipient—a man in Georgia. That just made me want to advocate for better awareness about kidney donation. Maybe someone will hear my story and think, if she did it, I can do it.

Before I decided to donate, the one thing that stood in my  way was that I knew my mother would worry over me having surgery and having only one kidney. Sadly, Mom passed in July 2020. I can’t help but think that her death, where she’s now in a place where there is no worry or sadness, was made good by giving me the freedom, permission and motivation to pursue becoming a living kidney donor.

And I know she would be proud of me. I can just hear her say the way she did all the time: “You done good, girl.”