One donor's story: Kristin Gjerset

  • Sauk Rapids
  • Organ
  • Living Donor: 2012

I have been a neonatal intensive care registered nurse for nine years. I love my job and will be going back to school this fall to become a neonatal nurse practitioner. I have two beautiful, talented, intelligent, busy daughters Taya, who is 12, and Chloe, who is 9. They are the love of my life. Corey and I have been married for 17 years. I love my family and love my friends. I enjoy movies (especially horror movies), concerts, reading and watching my girls dance.

My family and friends are the most important things in life to me. I realize, because of what my husband and I have been through, that every day is a gift and not something to be taken for granted.

I am honored to be included on the Wall of Heroes.

About five years ago my husband, Corey, was diagnosed with diabetes. Shortly after his diagnosis, he discovered that his kidney function was only 45%. In November 2011, when his kidney function had fallen to less than 20%, he was placed on the deceased donor list to receive a kidney.

I do not have the same blood type as my husband and was not eligible to donate directly to him. Corey’s brother and a friend, who were both perfect matches, went through testing to be Corey’s donor, but were both disqualified. We were devastated.

We then began exploring the option of a paired exchange in which I would donate my kidney so Corey could receive a kidney from someone else that was a match. I went through testing and was quickly approved to be a kidney donor. Amazingly, after just three weeks on the paired exchange waiting list, we received a call from the transplant center at Hennepin County Medical Center. They had a kidney for Corey.

Corey and I had surgery on August 16th, 2012. I donated my kidney to an anonymous individual (at the time) and Corey received a kidney from an anonymous non-directed living donor. Thankfully, my husband never had to go on diaysis. We will be grateful every day of our lives for the gift he received. He now feels amazing and realizes how sick he really was in the months prior to his kidney transplant.

I have since connected with the individual who received my kidney and met that person. That meeting was a gift and I feel so blessed that my donation was able to help my husband receive a kidney and help the person who received my kidney start a new life. Organ donation has been one of the best experiences of my life.

Kristin Gjerset