Organ donation: gift of giving

• Dixon resident donates kidney to uncle, seeks donations

My name is Jami Danks and I am 35 years old. I live in Dixon, along with my husband, Jerry, and two wonderful girls, Jessica and Rebecca.

I will be donating my kidney in early December to my Uncle Daniel Ryckman of Michigan. I will be in Michigan for the surgery for 15 days and off work for approximately eight weeks. Our family income will suffer during this time while I am unable to work, and our family will incur expenses outside of the normal during this period of time.

Daniel Ryckman was born with polycystic kidney disease. He was always kind of sickly growing up. It wasn’t until he was 21 that they found out about the disease, although he has always known that he would have to have a kidney transplant.

In the summer of 2002 ,I was visiting family in Michigan. I called my aunt and uncle and made arrangements to come and see them. It was during that visit that I learned that Uncle Dan’s kidneys were only functioning at 12 percent, and he would soon have to have a transplant. I asked if any of his brothers were going to donate one of theirs to him. He said, “No,” some were in bad health and some were just not comfortable with it. I asked him what it took to be tested to donate. He said first of all you would have to have O positive blood and have blood taken and a tissue match done on the blood.

I informed him that I was O positive and would be willing to be tested for the possibility of donating my kidney to him. From there, I was scheduled to have the tissue typing done. After the testing was completed, I was found to a be a match for Dan. We have five out of six antigens in common, which made us “almost” a perfect match.

In January 2003, I went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where I had a physical and was “sized up” to be Dan’s donor. I had to talk to a psychologist (to make sure I was in my right mind) and four different surgeons. I was taken to a lecture where they showed me and other potential donors a video of a kidney transplant. I have been informed of everything that would happen before and after the transplant.

I was found to be in good health, but would have to lose 30 to 40 pounds to donate. The surgeons met several days later and discussed the possibility of my kidney being donated to Uncle Dan. So I went home and lost 35 pounds over the next nine months. However, during these past nine months Uncle Dan’s kidneys completely failed, and he had had to be on dialysis three times a week.

In September 2003, I went back to Ann Arbor, University of Michigan. I underwent a 3-D CAT scan. It was then that they informed me that I have two perfect kidneys and gave us the go-ahead with the transplant.

I received a call on Nov. 4, (my birthday) from the medical staff saying we can set a date for the transplant. I called my aunt and uncle and informed them of the good news and a date for the transplant was scheduled. It was Dec. 4 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

I am thankful to God for my health, the support of my family to have this opportunity to give and bless the life of my uncle and his family.

If anyone would like to give a donation to help Jami and her family out during this time, please send a check or money order to the address below. Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated.

Donations payable to: Amcore Bank c/o: Jami Danks, Amcore Bank N.A. , Oregon, IL 61061. Phone. 1-888-426-2673

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