Two local women participate in 10-person kidney donation chain

SUSSEX Co., Del. – Two local women are preparing for the surgery of a lifetime. One is preparing to receive a kidney, while the other is getting ready to donate hers to a total stranger. Originally, the two had planned on a kidney exchange with one another, but life had other plans.

The women are named Nicole Scharf and Ally Klink, and they actually met at a dialysis center in Georgetown four years ago. At the time, Ally had just found out she had end stage renal disorder and Nicole, who works with the National Kidney Foundation, was making her rounds visiting patients.

Fast forward about four years, Nicole found out that Ally was on the donor list and she realized her blood type matched Ally’s.

Ally said, “It was unbelievable. At first I was like, ‘Is she being serious?'”

In November of 2018, Nicole Scharf, who works at the National Kidney Foundation, realized she might be a match for her good friend Ally Klink, who has been on dialysis for four years, after her kidneys failed back in 2015.

Nicole said, “So Ally posted to Facebook that she needed an O-blood type donor and I sat there and looked at my husband and said, ‘Well I am O-negative, fairly healthy, know a lot about living donation’ and I immediately just texted her and told her I was going to get tested.”

Things were looking up for the pair but sadly, just a few months later they found out that Nicole wasn’t the ideal match.

Nicole said, “Then we found out on Valentine’s Day that I was compatible for her, but I wasn’t the best match and that was devastating. I was crushed because I really wanted to donate directly to her.”

Refusing to give up on her friend Ally, Nicole immediately told her about something called the Paired Kidney Exchange Program.

Ally said, “I have a donor, but she is not a match for me, so they pair us with other people who have a donor that might not be a match for them.”

The two are now part of a ten person chain that will help get five people, including Ally, off of dialysis, which is a harsh form of treatment.

Nicole said, “The most common way to receive treatment is going into a center three days a week, four hours at a time, and you’re stuck with needles in your arm on that machine and you can’t move and in essence, what that machine is doing is it is taking all the blood out of your body, cleaning it, and then putting it back in.”

Ally said, “It becomes very boring and very tiresome.”

Nicole says thousands of people all over the country are waiting on a kidney transplant. “There’s about 100,000 people across the US waiting for an organ and about 98% of those folks are waiting on a kidney,” she said.

So moving forward these women just hope their story will inspire others to get involved in the Paired Kidney Exchange Program.

Nicole said, “We can really wipe out the transplant wait list if we had more living donors.”

Nicole and Ally’s transplant surgery is scheduled for May 15th. Ally tells us she will be celebrating May 15th like it’s her new birthday.

Living kidney donors typically last longer than those from deceased donors, so if you’re healthy and you haven’t had issues with high blood pressure or diabetes in the past you’re encouraged to consider donating!

If you have any questions about kidney donation, you are asked to reach out to Nicole Scharf at the National Kidney Foundation at 410-726-8732.

Categories: Delaware, Local News, Maryland