AUSTIN, Texas - More than 100,000 Americans are currently in need of an organ transplant and most of them need of a kidney. It's a years-long wait, unless you can find a living donor.
"I really think if more people did it, it would be normalized, I guess. And, that would be great, because there wouldn't be so many people waiting for a kidney. And, some people die waiting for kidneys and that's terrible," said Emily Ellisor, a living kidney donor.
Emily Ellisor became a living kidney donor in November 2020 about six-months after meeting her husband's co-worker, Trevor Manning, at a motocross park in Central Texas.
Manning, who has a genetic kidney disease called Alport Syndrome, was on dialysis at the time. After his kidneys failed, determined to help him if she could, Ellisor did a work-up to make sure she was healthy enough to donate. Shortly after, a crossmatch test was done.
"We were like one thing away from like siblings, that's how close we were in our match," she said. "When I called Trevor, I was like 'oh my gosh we're going to do this!' And he was like 'this is crazy, I cannot believe this is happening.' And, I was just like, 'I am so excited!'"
Manning was more concerned.
"I told her multiple times, 'please you don't have to do it, if you don't need to. I want you to be good.' And, she didn't budge. She didn't even blink. Like, she was all for it," Manning said.
"People need to realize there are a lot of really good people out there that want to do good things. And, it gives you belief in the human condition, the human heart," said Dr. Dr. Jacqueline Lappin.
Dr. Jacqueline Lappin is the surgical director at the kidney transplant center at St. David's North Austin. She also performed Manning's part of the surgery.
"The good news is that because we have two kidneys, and we only need one to live a healthy life, you can be both a living donor and an individual who has kidney failure can live a healthy life with one donated kidney," Dr. Lappin said.
More than a year after the surgery, Manning and Ellisor are both healthy.
"Just knowing that you're good, knowing everything is how it should be, now, it's just mind-blowing," Manning said.
"I felt extremely happy that I did what I did and that Trevor was feeling so much better. You could look at his face and tell he was so much healthier," said Ellisor.
Manning says he's thankful for his living donor, and to others who choose to give the gift of life.
"My whole life, I've wanted to help people. You know, I went into firefighting, or at least to school for it, and nothing that I've ever done will amount to helping someone, like Emily did to me," said Manning. "When you talk to someone who has been through it, especially the dialysis part, you'll understand what you're giving. And, that's you know, it's just good juju, I guess."
Since the transplant surgery, Ellisor and her husband welcomed a baby girl this past fall. Manning is engaged and will get married next year.
If you'd like to learn more about becoming a living kidney donor, click here.