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Alumna Kidney Donor Saved a Life, Improved Her Own

By Lauren Whetzel-Siburkis

quoteKmeganidney donors typically do not improve their health when they give up an organ— but that’s what happened to alumna MEGAN ALLMAN HS’13 when she started her journey toward becoming a living kidney donor after graduating from University of the Sciences in 2013.

The 23-year-old aspiring physician assistant dropped 15 pounds and significantly cut back on her smoking before she donated her kidney to former high school classmate Chris Polk on February 27, 2014. Unlike her USciences peers who were focused on landing their first “real” job out of college, Allman said she had a unique goal upon graduation: Find out if she was eligible to donate her kidney to Polk, who was in end-stage renal failure.

“A week after graduating college in May 2013, I contacted the transplant office to see if I was a match for Chris,” Allman said. “After a series of blood tests and health screenings, I found out that I was approved to be a kidney donor in December 2013, just in time for the holidays.”

Although Allman and Polk did not run in the same social circles in high school because of their age difference, they are now forever a part of each other—a “selfrewarding experience,” Allman said, she will cherish for the rest of her life.

“A lot of people have asked why I was so determined to donate my kidney to someone I barely knew,” said Allman. “But for me, the answer is simple. I saw a young man, with so much life ahead of him, suffering from kidney failure. I am one of six children, and I hope that someone would step forward to do something like this for me or my family if the roles were reversed.”

quoteIn the time leading up to the surgery, Allman said she and her family had their initial concerns, such as, “Will my quality of life change?” and “What if I have kidney problems down the road?” However, looking back, Allman said those types of feelings were normal and all part of the donation process.

“It’s a very personal decision and so many different thoughts—both good and bad—run through your mind during the entire journey,” she said. “Luckily, my family was extremely supportive of my decision and helped me stay focused on the positives.”

Now, six months after the kidney transplant, Allman said she feels healthier than ever, despite an absent kidney. She vividly recalls bursting into tears of relief a few hours after the surgery when she learned that Polk’s body accepted her kidney and was able to produce urine.

“Hearing those words, then seeing the huge smile on Chris’s face, were priceless moments,” she said. “This journey also made me realize that helping people is what I want to do for the rest of my life, and I look forward to applying to graduate physician assistant studies programs soon.”

Allman and Polk, both of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, enjoy traveling across the region to share their story with various individuals and organizations, in hopes of encouraging others to consider becoming living kidney donors.

Categories: The Bulletin, Alumni, Giving, USciences, Humanities and Science