Osgood donates kidney to save dad’s life

By Morgan Smith '14

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Most people are born with two kidneys, but you only need one to live. The kidneys are the body’s filter system. They clean and purify the blood and then waste is excreted through our urine. They also release hormones that balance our blood pressure and help with our red blood cell production. Without kidney function, people have to go on dialysis where a machine has to clean the blood.

 On January 4, 2011, Kristin Osgood, a Fine Arts teacher at West Deptford High School, donated her left kidney to her father. She saved his life. The surgery took place at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden, NJ, which is a major transplant center. 

 “My father was diagnosed with kidney disease fifteen years ago because of high blood pressure,” Osgood said. In December, they diagnosed him with renal (which means “kidney”) failure. His kidneys had shriveled up like dried sponges; they were down to only ten percent function. He was weeks away from having to go on dialysis.

 Osgood, her mother and two sisters were all a tissue type match, which is pretty rare. After Osgood’s mother was disqualified, Kristin stepped forward as the donor.

 “My oldest sister wasn’t healthy enough, and my middle sister has two children, so I felt like it should be me,” Osgood said.

 The testing was rigorous. She had to have a lung x-ray, an abdominal scan, an EKG to test her heart, and lots blood work.

 “They had to make sure I was perfectly healthy,” Osgood said.

  The surgery requires three small incisions and one larger one–about four inches long, to remove the kidney. The left kidney is taken because the veins are longer. The kidney is then placed in the recipient’s right side, below the pelvic bones.

 “I was terrified going into surgery because it was my first time in the hospital, but I just left everything in God’s hands and did it!” said Osgood.

 The operation went perfectly.

 “As soon as they connected the kidney to my dad, it pinked right up and started producing urine. I only lost three tablespoons of blood!”

 Recovery was a slow process. She had to miss seven weeks of school.

“Two weeks of pain, for 30 years of life is a no brainer,” Osgood said smiling, “He’s my dad. I’d do anything for him.”

 Osgood’s remaining kidney grew 30% larger to compensate for the missing kidney.

 Osgood is now feeling like her old self, and she has even started jogging again. 

“Life is good! I feel great!” she said.

You can become a donor even if you don’t know anyone with kidney disease. For more information, visit the National Kidney Foundation at www. kidney.org. Donating an organ is a pretty big step. One small step is to get an organ donor card at donatelife.net

Mr. Osgood is also doing really well. Kidneys from living donors usually last twice as long as those from cadaver donors. This kidney should last him for the rest of his life.

“He’s on anti-rejection medication, which lowers his immune system so that his body doesn’t reject the kidney. Recently, he had a scare with a low white blood cell count, but the doctors regulated his medicine, and he’s doing better now,” Osgood said.

Miss Osgood’s  fiance, Joe, was like an angel by her side the whole time. He proposed to her in New York City right before Valentine’s Day.

She said, “Yes!” and they are getting married in August, a week after she graduates from graduate school with an MFA. “I lost a kidney and gained a fiance! Everything happens for a reason.”