“Women on a Mission ” members include Patti Merritt of Grand Island, Diane Krzyzanowski of Akron, Jeanette Ostrom of Jamestown, and Tina Long of Buffalo Although we four women had never met before, our worlds came together because we needed a kidney or someone we loved needed a kidney. We plan to promote kidney donation and educate those in need in how to be proactive. We also plan to gather feedback from people who have donated a kidney and relay their experiences and feelings to those considering becoming a living kidney donor.

 

How “Women On A Mission” started

From left, Tina Long and Jeanette Ostrom and Patti Merritt receive the National Kidney Foundation of Western New York’s Extraordinary Achievement Award at a presentation in Buffalo. The women created WNYKidneyConnection.org, a Web site where potential living kidney donors can communicate with people in need on the Buffalo transplant waiting list. Not pictured is Diane Krzyzanowski

From left, Tina Long and Jeanette Ostrom and Patti Merritt receive the National Kidney Foundation of Western New York’s Extraordinary Achievement Award at a presentation in Buffalo. The women created WNYKidneyConnection.org, a Web site where potential living kidney donors can communicate with people in need on the Buffalo transplant waiting list. Not pictured is Diane Krzyzanowski

On December 28, 2004, Jeanette’s brother Anthony passed away. That night they received a call from Upstate New York Transplant Services asking if the family would like to donate anything that would either save a life or enhance a life. Since Anthony was born with cerebral palsy, they were proud to have Anthony give this gift. Jeanette wrote an article in the Buffalo News telling the story and received emails from Patti and Diane. After writing separately to them and hearing the similarities in their family history of kidney disease, Jeanette introduced them to each other and they all met face to face for the first time in April, 2005.

In January, 2006 Tina Long was searching for a kidney for her Dad and came across a website that Jeanette had posted to.  Tina emailed her to see if she would like to be in the exchange program.  Jeanette would give her kidney to Tina’s Dad and in exchange, Tina would donate her kidney to Jeanette’s son.  Unfortunately, the blood types were wrong for that to happen but it inspired the donor exchange section of this website. Jeanette’s son Paul had been refused a living kidney donor at Buffalo General Hospital because this donor was found through the internet viahttp://www.matchingdonors.com.

When Patti and Diane heard the story and realized the injustice of it, they immediately decided that something needed to be done.  We formed “Women On A Mission ” and from that point on, while trying to find living donors for ourselves or our loved ones, we decided to meet with BGH administrators to ask them to change their policy.   At our first meeting we realized that we would be successful. The Transplant Department at BGH was extremely enthusiastic about the mission. “WOAM” met with Kaleida administrators and promises were made to do everything possible so that the Transplant Program would move forward.  It took almost 8 months and we are happy to report that the new policy is in effect and is indeed saving lives. 

Paul’s donor, William Thomas, found on www.matchingdonors.com, was the first internet transplant in Buffalo thanks to the new policy. Thank you to Paul Dooley at Matchingdonors – because of your innovative way of thinking “outside the box” hundreds of lives have been saved. I, Paul’s Mom, will be eternally grateful to you and your website and to Bob Hickey, the first matchingdonors.com internet transplant recipient, for coming to Jamestown and helping to make the policy change possible.

The next step was to promote awareness of the new policy both within the community and at surrounding area hospitals accredited to perform transplants. Our dream was to start a local community website so that people on the waiting list can post their profile and anyone who wants to be a living donor can contact them.  Donors who are not compatible with a friend or family member can post this on it in the kidney exchange section.

 If this site helps to save one life we will consider it a success! In our hearts we believe the four of us were brought together for a profound purpose: to offer hope for those in need of a kidney and to offer everyone who currently waits a viable alternative to finding the donor they so desperately need. This is not an impossible dream but a possible dream and if our dream comes true one day there will be no waiting list.  Until that dream becomes a reality, our goal is to see more lives saved one connection at a time.  

Thank you for taking an interest in the Western New York Kidney Connection.  To anyone considering living kidney donation:  To the world you may be just one person, but to one person, you just may be the world.  

Sincerely,
Women On A Mission