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Stories of hope

Carlotta: forever joined by the gift of organ donation

Carlotta Ingle Swift

My story started by a Facebook post a friend of mine made in late December 2011 about her son needing a kidney. She also happens to be a realtor and was showing me a home around the first of January 2012. All of a sudden she just broke down and said that they had not been able to find a kidney donor for Wes….

I told her I had seen the Facebook post and asked how to go about testing, and she explained how to contact the transplant coordinator working with him. I asked for the number and said I would make the call as soon as I got home because I wanted to be tested. I didn’t live that far away and by the time I got home, something just came over me and I just KNEW that I would be a match for Wes.

I called that afternoon, and since I lived over 50 miles away from the hospital, they sent the testing supplies to the medical center closest to me. After the first preliminary match said I could be a match, I waited until after the second when it was verified that yes, I was a match! This call came on January 26, 2012—my 48th birthday. I was scheduled for two days of intensive testing on February 8, 2012 (Wes’ 21st birthday). I had not until February 7th actually met Wes in person, although I had known his mom for years and knew she had two sons—Wil and Wes. It was unreal, because the moment I saw him it was like I had known him my whole life. Little did I know how much both our lives would change from that moment till this in the most incredible way.

After the testing, they found that not only was I a match for Wes to donate my kidney but I was the best possible match they had seen between two people not related. On Good Friday, April 6, 2012, we had our donation and transplant surgeries. It was fitting it was on Good Friday because Wes’ last name is EASTERWOOD!

The surgeries were a success, and both of us went home that Monday. Since the transplant surgery, we have become more than family. Wes is the brother I never had, and I am his big sister. As he had to have peritoneal dialysis nightly at home before his transplant, he was not able to do things a young man should be able to do. After his transplant, he was able to go to college, buy a house, marry his sweetheart, and in April 2016 when I got married, he walked me down the aisle and gave me away and also stood in as my “Man of Honor.”

In February 2018, one of the two greatest blessings to come from our transplant was when he and Heather welcomed a son, and then in November 2021 a daughter.

I have become so involved in spreading the word about organ donation and, in particular, living organ donation because it impacted my life in a positive way. I truly believe that I was born with Wes’ kidney and just kept it until he needed it. I have attached a photo from mine and Lee’s wedding as Wes is handing me Lee’s ring and holding my flowers! I look forward to participating in the Transplant Games of America this summer in Birmingham, Alabama.

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Kidney, Living donor, Stories

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