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Kidney donor’s search for recipient leads to the Cayman Islands

Donating a kidney has been called the ultimate act of charity.

Touched by the death of a co-worker, an Indiana woman was inspired last year to donate one of her kidneys to a total stranger.

Her search for the recipient of her ‘gift of life’ led her to the Cayman Islands, thanks to a story Cayman 27 broadcast for World Kidney Day in 2017.

“I wanted to do something and save somebody else’s life since I couldn’t save Aaron’s life,” said Christine Graf of Schererrville, Indiana.

After the sudden death of her 29-year old friend and colleague, Ms. Graf said she was inspired to give the gift of life to a total stranger.

“In my heart it was something I had to do, so I reached out to the Mayo in Rochester, Minnesota,” said Ms. Graf, via video conference with Cayman 27.

After some preliminary testing she said was cleared to donate. Not long after, there was a match.

“My surgery was at the Mayo in Rochester, Minnesota, and my kidney flew to Florida, Mayo Florida, and I just recently learned who my recipient’s name is,” said Ms. Graf.

A quick Google search of that name led her to this Cayman 27 news story from March 2017, featuring then-dialysis patient Tesha Thomas.

“I watched it, and her name is the name that the Mayo gave me, if it’s her, I would love to meet her, I would, it would be just a blessing,” said Ms. Graf.

Ms. Graf told Cayman 27 her donation set off a chain reaction of kidney donations that resonated far beyond a single recipient.

“Apparently my recipient had somebody that was OK to donate, but they weren’t a match, so the chain started from myself, and it went all the way down, and it’s helped twelve people receive transplants from my donation,” said Ms. Graf.

She said while it would likely be emotional, she hopes she can one day meet her recipient and give her a big hug.

“I would love to be able to, love to be able to meet her and know where my kidney went, and I was so blessed to be able to have donated, and then I would just love to be able to meet her in person, it would be great,” said Ms. Graf. 

We contacted Ms. Thomas through the Health Services Authority. She declined to participate in an interview because – as you might imagine – this is deeply personal for her.

Friday morning (9 November), Ms. Graf told Cayman 27 she was thrilled to receive an email from Ms. Thomas, and hopes one day the two can meet in person.

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to josephavary@hurleysmedia.ky

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