Become an Organ Donor

My mom was diagnosed with kidney disease following her first semester in college. Three years of dialysis later, an organ donor gave her the gift of life. The doctors warned her that the kidney would last approximately 8 years and that she may never be able to have children. More than thirty years later, she is a lawyer, still has that kidney, and has four children (including me).

While she’s definitely living a full life, it hasn’t come without its challenges. After all of us were born, doctors finally determined the cause of the kidney disease that caused her, my uncle, my aunt, and my grandfather’s kidneys to fail. (My aunt, uncle, and grandfather each have had life-altering stories from receiving transplants, just like my mom.) They were all diagnosed with nail patella syndrome. In rare cases like my family’s, it manifests itself in kidney disease. My brothers and I, as well as two of my cousins, have inherited this genetic disorder. In fact, my brother Kenny went into kidney failure as a late teen. He received the gift of life from a donor just before his 18th birthday. After witnessing his lethargy for so long, I was so happy to see the new kidney energize him. Kenny is now a Junior Art major at the University of North Florida.

One day, my brother David and I will need transplants, too. While we are watching our diet and staying active, one day we will need transplants. In fact, recent statistics show that more than 100,000 people are currently waiting to receive organ transplants in the U.S. The median wait time for a transplant is 3.6 years. Thousands of people are added to the kidney waiting list each month. Thousands of kidney transplants are performed in the U.S. each year. Recent statistics show that approximately one-third come from live donors. The rest come from people who sign up to be organ donors. While so many people have become organ donors and have left a lasting legacy, several thousand patients die each year while waiting for kidney transplantation and several thousand more become too sick to receive a transplant. (All of the above statistics were taken from the National Kidney Foundation at

I understand death is not a pleasant topic to discuss. I don’t like talking about it either. Still, the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy remains. My family is thankful every day for the lasting legacy they’ve received from others.

If you’re already an organ donor, thank you! Feel free to share a link to this site and to (where we’ll regularly post information on organ donation).

If you’re not an organ donor and would like to become one, you can sign up at

If you’re still hesitant, I understand. This is an important decision. Feel free to return to this site for videos and content. Maybe it will change your mind. At the very least, you’ll have more information. That is always a good thing!

Ava Eckstein-Schoemann

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The truth about a misconception on being an organ donor.

Hope for the Future

My brother Kenny received a kidney transplant the week before he turned 18. Most kidney transplant patients do not have their diseased kidneys removed. Regularly, before they receive transplants, their native kidneys are non-functioning and have shrunk to the size of peas. The surgery to have them removed, a nephrectomy, is invasive, would be pointless,…

Keep reading

Findings on the effects of nail patella syndrome on the kidneys. This article pre-dates the breakthroughs they made with Kenny’s kidney. My family (including me) was one of the families tested in the research and referenced in the article.

Pictures from Kenny’s transplant and nephrectomy