Lilian Jarvinen

Lilian Jarvinen

Living Donor

Jill, kidney recipient (left) and Lilian, living kidney donor (right)

“I had a friend from elementary school who needed a heart transplant when he was 15 years old. He passed away after college and was able to donate his corneas, which opened my eyes to the gift of organ donation and inspired me to volunteer at organ procurement organizations, including We Are Sharing Hope SC.

Through volunteer work and training, I learned about living donation and felt a calling but didn’t feel that it was the right time for me to donate. In April of 2017, I read an article about a living kidney donor, and I knew it was my time to begin the process of becoming a living kidney donor myself. On August 30, 2017, at MUSC in Charleston, I donated one of my kidneys and it was flown to Massachusetts to a woman named Jill from New Hampshire. The next summer, I met Jill and learned that she avoided dialysis by receiving her transplant. She and I both get labs done every year to check kidney function, and we are both doing great! She tells me every year that her labs are the best they’ve ever been, thanks to me and my donated kidney. Jill feels like she got her life back as she’s doing things that she enjoys such as taking care of her family and traveling. She sends me updates when she takes ‘our’ kidney to new places!

After working at MUSC Transplant for four years helping other living donors through the process, I now work for the National Kidney Foundation. In my role as Director of Programs, I work to promote kidney equity for all. I am very passionate about kidney health and living donation, and I hope that with more awareness, more people will find out if they are at risk for kidney disease. I also hope that more will come forward as living donors to help those in need through the gift of donation.”