Becoming an organ donor can be a difficult choice. However, Lindsay Arnold did not think twice about her decision.
In October 2018, she changed the life of a man she never met by donating one of her kidneys to him.
That man was George Labecki. George was diagnosed with stage IV kidney disease in February 2017. With less than 20% kidney function, he needed to find a living donor and took to social media to share his story. When Lindsay saw his post on Facebook asking if anybody was willing to donate a kidney to him, she had to act.
As part of National Donate Life Month, we caught up with Lindsay to discuss her journey, her experiences with organ donation, and what becoming a living donor means.
What was your first thought when you saw George’s Facebook post?
When I saw George’s post, it truly resonated with me. I found out that he was a teacher at the high school I attended, and I immediately felt drawn to help him. The next day I reached out to UPMC to schedule an evaluation and soon found out that I was able to donate my kidney to George.
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What advice would you give someone who is considering living donation?
Becoming a living donor is a very personal choice. Think everything through and make sure to do your research about living donation before making the decision. There is a lot to consider with topics that you wouldn’t think of that are part of the donation process. I joined a Facebook support group to help me through my donation process and that helped me understand what other donors have gone through.
Since the transplant, I never once regretted my decision. It was an experience that bettered my life knowing that I saved someone else’s. And that’s something to be proud of forever.
Had you thought about becoming an organ donor prior to seeing George’s Facebook post?
Organ donation wasn’t something I had really thought about prior to this experience. Before I saw the post, I never considered becoming a living donor. I now advocate for anyone who is considering registering as an organ donor because it was the most rewarding experience of my life. And I made a lifelong friend in the process.
How has this experience changed you for the better?
Before I saw the Facebook post, I never knew who George was; he was a complete stranger to me. Now, we are great friends and talk to each other almost every day. I consider George my family and we even have this saying that, ‘we took one healthy person and made two healthy people.’
After I revealed that I was going to donate my kidney to him, we sat down on his couch and exchanged phone numbers. Although we were strangers at that time, it’s a priceless experience that I will remember forever.
What was the best part of your living donation journey?
The video of me going to his house and revealing to him that I was going to be his donor was posted online and ended up going viral. If that video touched even one person and gave them hope about organ donation and transplantation — that is everything to me. Giving hope and inspiring others is why I am so proud of my decision.
UPMC celebrates National Donate Life Month to help encourage Americans to register as organ, eye, and tissue donors and to honor those who have saved lives through the gift of donation. To learn more or to register your decision to become an organ donor, visit UPMC.com/DonateLife.
About Transplant Services
For more than four decades, UPMC Transplant Services has been a leader in organ transplantation. Our clinicians have performed more than 20,000 organ transplant procedures, making UPMC one of the foremost organ transplant centers in the world. We are home to some of the world’s foremost transplant experts and take on some of the most challenging cases. Through research, we have developed new therapies that provide our patients better outcomes — so organ recipients can enjoy better health with fewer restrictions. Above all, we are committed to providing compassionate, complete care that can change – and save – our patients’ lives. Visit our website to find a provider near you.