Faith McKinney, tissue recipient and living donor
When it comes to understanding how donation and transplantation transform lives, Faith McKinney has perspective few others possess. Hers is a story told from both sides—tissue recipient and living donor—because Faith is both.
In 1998, suffering from a hereditary eye condition that threatened sight in her left eye, Faith received a cornea transplant. The transplanted cornea, which Faith was told had come from a young boy, not only helped restore her vision but also had a profound impact on her view of how one person and one decision can make a difference.
“Being able to do something like that, to give like that was something I always kept in the back of my mind,” she says. “To me, that kind of giving was so kind and so selfless.”
During a public speaking course several years later, an instructor challenged Faith to consider what “monumental difference” she intended to make with her life. For Faith, the answer came a few weeks later when she received an email from her cousin whose husband was on dialysis and needed a kidney transplant.
“We have a really big family, and she was asking if any of us would consider being tested. It hit me like a lightning bolt; I knew this was a way I could make a difference.”
Faith was able to donate one of her kidneys in 2009, and although her cousin’s husband died of a heart attack several years later, he was able to spend seven additional years with his wife and family that were free from dialysis.
“Giving someone a second chance at life impacts a whole family,” Faith says. “And in a way, it also was a gift to myself—a lesson in understanding how very valuable we all are.”