Kidney donation brings 2 Anchorage women together

By Julia O'malley

Anchorage Daily News

Published: Sunday, Oct. 7 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

She wasn't sure what caused her to make the offer that day at Providence. But now that the prospect was real, she thought: Why not?

"This is the way I look at it: I have passed my milestones. ... I've had love relationships, I went to my proms, I've had friendships, I've had children, I've been overseas. I've had a good life. After all that, it's just slush," she said. "I didn't feel that way at 25, but at almost 70, every day I wake up is a gift."

She called Teas. She also got an answering machine. She left a message. She was on board.

Both of them knew that Wolfe's willingness to donate is only a piece of the process. Next there are a battery of tests. And as a possible donor, Wolfe had at least one major hurdle from the outset. She is 69. That's old to have kidneys healthy enough to donate, she said. Teas wasn't sure it would work out for that reason. She kept up the search for other donors.

In the meantime, Wolfe started her tests. Each time Wolfe took one, she passed. Her blood sugar was normal but on the high side, so she started going to Planet Fitness in the Northway Mall three times a week. (She also transcribed for years for an endocrinologist, a diabetes specialist, so she knew exercise would normalize her blood sugar, she said.) One of the last major tests was a cardiac stress test. Wolfe had to walk on a treadmill, getting her heart rate up. The gym time paid off, she said. She wowed the nurse giving her the test.

"I blew the dust off my peer group," she said.

Her kidneys, it turned out, were unusually healthy despite her age. She was cleared to donate. When Teas got the news, via her transplant nurse, she had to let it sink in. She felt so grateful to Wolfe, a friendly person from her past who she barely knew, she said.

"I thought, "Oh, my God," she said. "I felt blessed. It had been such a long haul."

Getting cleared to donate, for Wolfe, felt like an accomplishment in itself. She's excited to go through with the procedure and to watch Teas improve. She's also a little nervous, she said. Who wouldn't be?

"I believe we all come here with a purpose," she told me. "This is mine."

Since they got the news the transplant will go forward, they have been working out together a few times a week at the Northway Mall. Now, they told me, they consider themselves friends.

The transplant is scheduled for Oct. 8.

Information from: Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.adn.com

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