Donating a kidney, saving a friend’s life

When Jan Woerner, of North Dallas, fell through her attic and landed on concrete, she suffered from a severe back injury. She saw several doctors but was given no diagnosis. When the pain became too much, she ended up in pain management for six years; starting on opioids and trying to find a way to reduce the pain.
The medicine helped for a while, until an intestinal infection led to sepsis shock, landing her in the hospital for three-and-a-half months. Due to complications with the infection, Jan lost function in her kidneys and has since been on dialysis for two years.
Enter Rhonda McCartt, a Ruston native. She was born and raised in Ruston, and is a graduate of Louisiana Tech University. She moved to Dallas in 1987 for work, where she currently serves as the National Sales Manager for Trina Turk.
Rhonda and Jan have been friends for nearly 20 years. The two met in 1999 when Jan started working in the showroom where Rhonda was the manager. Even though they no longer work for the same company, the two have still remained close friends. In fact, so close that Rhonda decided to get tested to see if she was a match for kidney donation.
On May 5, two years to the date since Jan suffered from sepsis shock, Rhonda found out she was a match and was able to donate a kidney to her dear friend.
“It really is ironic how things have worked out,” Woerner said. “It was exactly two years since I had sepsis shock, and then I found out Rhonda was a match.”
Donating a kidney is not a simple task. There are lots of tests and procedures that had to be done to ensure the two would be a perfect match, but that did not stop Rhonda from wanting to help her friend.
“Rhonda is a person who can see past herself,” she said. “Her donating this kidney to me is an absolute tribute to who she is. She truly is an amazing person.”
For Rhonda, going through the process of seeing if she was a match was not a hard decision.
“I didn’t think twice about going through the procedure,” McCarrt said. “I thought to myself, what are a few weeks of downtime to save someone’s life.”
Before a surgery date could be set, Rhonda had to find out if she was an exact match for donating a kidney.
“I decided to get tested in March,” she said. “There were a bunch of tests I had to go through to make sure everything was exact and lined up perfectly.”
She said she had to have blood work done to determine if there was a tissue match and a urine test to tell how her kidney would act.
“With the urine test, our numbers had to be an exact match,” she said. “These tests all made sure the donor is completely healthy and is able to go through with the transplant. As it turns out, my numbers were an exact match.”
The surgery is set for Aug. 22, she said, and there are no real preparations that she had to take before the procedure.
“The main thing I have been doing is making sure I drink lots of water,” she said. “After the procedure Jan will feel infinitely better than before. I just think it’s worth it to give up a short time to save someone’s life.”


This originally appeared in The Ruston Daily Leader


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