Jess, Living Kidney Donor and Best Friend



The decision to donate my kidney was a simple one. I had something that my dear friend Mara needed in order to live. The moral decision was simple but convincing those around me that my decision was a good one took some time.

In the weeks before surgery, I found myself spending most of my energy educating the people who cared about me (my husband, parents, brothers, friends, and even my students) that the surgery was safe. It turns out that people know very little about kidneys and even less about living donation. Don’t you need them both? No. Can you still have kids? Yes. What are the long-term affects? No contact sports, so my MMA career will take a hit.

mara w

Following surgery, I can now say on behalf of myself and all those same loved ones that the decision I made was the best of my life. We saw Mara bounce back to life. The transformation was dramatic. The day after surgery she was up, eating breakfast, and cracking jokes with her nurse. The friend I had known for years was brighter, lighter, healthier, and more full of life. Any pre-surgery doubts or worries were quickly forgotten as we allowed the immense relief and joy to wash over us.

The surgery was in March, and I feel great. Not squatting-115-pounts-at-the-gym great, but still great. I am back at work, hiking, and living life like I was before the surgery.

They always say giving is better than receiving, and I couldn’t agree more. This experience has been powerful and has given me more joy than I could ever express. All because I was just lucky enough to be a match.

Mara Wiles(1)

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