Woman Donates Kidney, Sets Off Organ Donation Chain

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 02: A sign outside St. Luke's Hospital turns away visitors as the Coronavirus Pandemic causes a climate of anxiety and changing routines in America on April 02, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

A woman donated one of her kidneys to honor the loss of her five-year-old son, setting off a chain of organ donations that brought six people in Kansas City together for transplants.

Ashley O’Neill’s life took a turn for the worse on her 30th birthday when she found out she needed a kidney transplant to survive.

“Basically, the only symptom I had was being puffy in the ankles, being a little swollen,” Ashley O’Neill told KMBC.

She was on dialysis within a year. Her father, Stan, offered to donate one of his kidneys, but doctors recommended Ashley find another donor because of his age.

Then, Haley Wright came into the picture. Her five-year-old son, Drake, died in a car accident and had his organs donated.

On the fifth anniversary of Drake’s death, Wright found out she could continue his legacy by becoming a living donor.

Wright turned out to be a match for Ashley O’Neill.

“I guess the best word to describe it would actually be a miracle,” O’Neill said. “It brought hope back into my life. I feel like I could have a future again.”

Wright started a chain of living donations. Stan O’Neill traveled from California to donate one of his kidneys to another woman, Deanna Kelly.

Deanna Kelly’s husband, Robert, did not turn out to be a match for her, so he donated his kidney to someone else, connecting six people for a living donor kidney transplant chain.

It became Saint Luke’s Hospital’s first living kidney donor transplant chain in the Kansas City region, the hospital said in a press release.

A similar kidney transplant chain took place in 2015 when a woman decided to donate one of her kidneys to a stranger, inspiring five more people to donate one of their kidneys to a stranger, ABC News reported.

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