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'One gift has resulted in so many more'

It was 11:03 p.m. one winter night in 2011 when the phone rang. Patty Nehs picked up the phone and heard something she hoped for but never expected. There was a perfect match kidney available. Tears sprung to Patty’s eyes. She was given a second chance at life.

Patty’s story began in 2007 when she was sick for two weeks with what was thought to be the flu. “I was getting weaker. I was having a hard time even writing my name or standing up in the shower,” says Patty.

It was discovered Patty had chronic kidney disease. Over the next few years, her kidney function continued to decline. “Even with constant labs, medications and watching my diet closely, the disease was getting worse,” says Patty. With placement on the transplant list in April 2010, the next nine months were a waiting game.

Patty Nehs

“My saving grace was the support and concern of my family and coworkers,” says Patty. Despite her condition, coming to work was uplifting. “No matter how tired I got from working 12-hour shifts, it was taking care of patients that kept me going.”

The night Patty received the phone call, she and her husband took the four-hour trip from La Crosse, Wis., to Madison in the snow. Less than 24-hours later, Patty had a fully functional kidney.

“The doctors came in and told me things had gone well and I could eat when I was ready,” says Patty. “My husband asked if I wanted orange juice. He knew it was one of my favorite things and I hadn’t been able to have it for a long time.”

In the years following her surgery, Patty notes the most important things organ donation have enabled her to do is spend much needed time with family and keep the job she loves as a critical care technician.

Patty has also been able to participate in activities she couldn’t do before. “Since my transplant, I have been able to get back into my 10-mile walks down to the Trempealeau lakes,” says Patty. “With these walks, I notice so many things I took for granted.”

Last year, Patty was able to climb First Peak and Brady’s Bluff in Perrot State Park, crossing two things off her bucket list. Patty also tried new hobbies, kayaking with family and her new found love of snowshoeing. “The snow at my feet and the cold on my face is something I could have never experienced without this gift of life,” says Patty.

Patty would greatly appreciate meeting the donor family and thanking them. “I don’t think they realize what an incredible gift they have given me. I get to spend time with my grandchildren and I got to meet my first great grandbaby. I’m back to quilting, gardening and spending time in my flower beds. One gift has resulted in so many more.”

Patty has always been a believer in organ donation. “My life is so much better due to organ donation; it has given me back the quality of life I used to have.”

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