Ga. woman donates kidney to stranger after seeing Facebook post
(WALB) - March is “National Kidney Month.”
To raise awareness, two south Georgia strangers are telling their story of organ donation.
After seeing a Facebook post, a Moultrie woman donated a kidney to a Douglas man.
“I think this all started in December of 2020,” Mark Lott said.
More than 15 years ago, he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that attacks his kidneys.
He was fine all those years. But in 2020, his health quickly took a turn.
“I went in for some routine blood work and at that point, I found out I was in end-stage renal failure,” he said. “My health was declining bad. I lost almost 100 pounds. Of course, I didn’t see it, but everybody around me could see it.”
They tried medication therapy to get his kidney function back, but it didn’t work.
“My other option was to go on dialysis three times a week, four hours a day,” Lott said.
While on dialysis, he met others in a similar situation, including some who didn’t make it.
“When you see somebody every day for a year and then all the sudden they aren’t there anymore and you wonder why, what happened,” he said. “It puts a lot of fear in your heart.”
Doctors told him that he needed a kidney transplant.
He joined more than 90,000 other people in the U.S. waiting for one last year.
“When I went into dialysis, there were some people there that had been there 20 years,” he said. “Then there were others that didn’t last the five-year wait period. They were already gone.”
On average, people wait 3-5 years for a kidney.
Lott didn’t know how much time he had left.
“I had several people, while I was on dialysis, die in there,” he said. “It’s scary. My health was pretty bad too, and I was worried that could be me.”
Lott’s journey led his family to plead for help on social media in an effort to save his life.
His wife, Michelle, posted on Facebook.
“So I saw the post Michelle had posted,” said Heather Bryant. “I immediately reached out.”
Heather did not know the Lotts.
She lives in Moultrie and they live in Douglas, but she already had a desire to donate a kidney to someone who needed one.
She lost her dad at a young age and said she didn’t want Mark’s family to go through the same thing.
“It was something in my heart that I wanted to do and that I knew was right,” Heather explained. “Just the way everything lined up, it was like God laid it out there for me.”
She said she instantly knew she would be Mark’s answer.
“I just told Michelle from day one that I messaged her that I knew I was Mark’s match,” she said. “It was just a feeling I had. It was something I really can’t explain.”
She went through a series of tests to find out.
“We were the same blood type,” Heather said. “We’re the exact same tissue match. It was just meant to be.”
The transplant happened in January at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
Both said the process was relatively easy.
“I had a little pole I could walk with, an IV pole, and I went to Mark’s room and he was still in the bed then,” she said. “Immediately, his color was different when I walked in.”
“I told my wife, ‘I’m a lot more clear than I used to be.’ I could think better,” Mark explained. “I wasn’t feeling that good physically, but in a week and a half’s time, I was back to normal.”
“I’m pretty sure he called me his hero because that’s what he calls me all the time,” Heather said.
She said everything she went through was completely worth it to get Mark back to good health.
“It’s been a struggle. It really has,” Mark said. “If it wasn’t for this lady right here, I probably wouldn’t be here right now.”
They talk or text at least once every day, and the bond they have is unbreakable.
“She’s been my bestie for a while now,” Mark said.
Since all of this, Heather’s sister has also decided to donate a kidney to someone in need of one.
Mark and Heather hope their story will encourage others to look into living organ donation as well.
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