Dental Hygienist donates kidney to a patient

A Dental Hygienist has donated a kidney to a patient when he told her about his condition during a routine dental appointment. The 62-year-old credits a dental appointment with saving his life.

The unusual story began last May as Tim Buckley was dealing with the progression of a hereditary condition called polycystic kidney disease. The incurable disease — which causes cysts to form on both kidneys, ultimately leading to decreased function — contributed to the deaths of one of his brothers and a sister, so he understood the potential gravity of his diagnosis.

With his kidney function dipping below 20 percent, his doctors at University of Minnesota Health determined he was eligible for a transplant — a day he dreaded but knew would come eventually.

But just getting on the national transplant list doesn’t guarantee that a patient will get the needed organ. As of Valentine’s Day, 95,353 Americans were on the waiting list for a kidney donation, with the average wait time between three and five years, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, the nonprofit organisation that manages the nation’s organ transplant system under contract with the federal government. An average of 13 people on the list die every day waiting for a kidney, the National Kidney Foundation reports.

Several of Tim’s relatives and close friends volunteered to be living donors but were deemed not a match or were rejected for medical reasons.

So with all of that weighing on his mind, when he attended for his biannual checkup he casually mentioned to his longtime hygienist, Ann Dohm, that someone from the University of Minnesota might call and ask for his medical records and that the office had his permission to release them.

Ann asked Tim what was going on and he then spilled the beans about his health challenges and his need for a kidney donor.

“I started cleaning his teeth and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, you’ve got to see your grandkids,’” Ann said in an interview last week.

As she walked Tim out after his appointment, she spontaneously uttered the words that would change the course of her patient’s life.

“She says, ‘I could do that. I have two kidneys, and I only need one,’” he recalled with a chuckle.

Ann immediately started researching living kidney donation and then went through a battery of tests to see if she was a good candidate.

When she finally was approved as a donor, she followed the advice of another hygienist in the office and brought Tim a gift. She delivered the good news by presenting him with a can of kidney beans and declaring, “These will have to do until you get mine.”

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