DONOR: How One Girl's Death Gave Life to Others by John Pekkanen

DONOR: How One Girl's Death Gave Life to Others

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An informative, behind-the-scenes story of organ transplants. The story is true and only the names of the donor family and recipients have been changed. Beginning with the death of 17-year-old Lisa Kelly and her parents' decision to donate her kidneys and corneas, Pekkanen traces the stories of the four recipients--from the operation and the fight against the body's rejection of the transplanted organ to the impact of the transplant on the families. After Lisa was declared brain-dead, the donor procurement team had to decide within hours who on the waiting list was best suited (had similar tissue type, etc.) to receive her kidneys and corneas. The four recipients were: Matthew Landis, a three-and-half-year-old who had already experienced two failed kidney transplants; Derrick Jackson, 23, almost blind since childhood; Carolyn Blanchard, 40, mother of two, whose life was saved (and also consumed) by hemodialysis--a process that filters blood mechanically; and finally Kenneth Walsh, 68, who had rejected 10 corneas and lived in a rooming house. Pekkanen takes readers on a roller coaster of hope and despair as he describes Matthew's and Carolyn's fight against rejection; the medical staff's heroic and sometimes mistaken procedures; Jo Leslie's (the director of Organ Procurement Center) emotional involvement in her consuming work; the families' exhausting vigils. In the end, Matthew's and Derrick's transplants are the most successful. After a battle with death, Matthew begins to lead the life of a healthy child; Derrick can see with one eye and read. Eleven months after the transplant, Carolyn's shrunken and infected kidney had to be removed. Even after the successful cornea transplant, Walsh could see only through a small pinhole. Sometimes overly melodramatic and overstuffed with insignificant details, it's nonetheless an engrossing and instructive read.

Pub Date: Jan. 22nd, 1985
Publisher: Little, Brown