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Transplant Patient Stories at UPMC in Central Pa.

Receiving a transplant, or becoming a donor, is a life-changing experience. Our transplant recipients and donors share their inspiring stories about how their lives have been transformed through organ donation.


Michael: Transplant

Michael never knew that donating one kidney could trigger a “chain reaction” and improve the quality of life for multiple people until he saw a story on the national news that led him to contact the transplant team at UPMC in Central Pa.

Read Michael's story

Sara Herrick: Transplant

Sarah had been a designated organ donor on her license for years, but her thoughts never once turned to being a living donor until a woman at her church needed a kidney donor.

Read Sara Herrick's story

Lydia: Kidney Transplant

Lydia was excited and preparing for the birth of her first child. Little did she know, her kidneys were failing and putting her and her unborn son’s lives at risk. Follow Lydia’s journey through a high-risk pregnancy, dialysis, and an eventual paired kidney exchange transplant.

Read Lydia's story

Leonard Weaver: Kidney Transplant

Patience certainly is a virtue for Leonard Weaver, who at age 77, had waited nine years for his new kidney. Having a rare blood type and after 30 potential donors who ended up not being a match, Dialysis seemed to be his only hope. All of that changed, however on June 8, 2019, when he found his match.

Read Leonard Weaver's story

Lew Pryor: Kidney Transplant

For Gert and Lew Pryor, theirs is a love story that is both inspirational and almost surreal. Thirty-two years ago, Gert gave Lewis her heart when she walked down the aisle to say her vows. Unbeknownst to her, she later would give him her kidney and another new beginning.

Read Lew Pryor's story

Edith Kelley: Kidney Transplant

After an annual checkup indicated something was happening with Edith’s kidneys, she was sent to a kidney specialist and underwent a biopsy. The results were not good. The lower part of her organ was diseased and not working. In 2015, Edith went on dialysis until her transplant on March 6, 2019.

Read Edith Kelley's story

Frank Blemler: Kidney Transplant

They say that family is the tie that binds. For the Blemler family, nothing could be more accurate.

Read Frank Blemler's story

Duane Vragovich: Kidney Transplant

As a man who enjoys building hot rods, Duane knows it takes time to put all the right pieces into place before running at full capacity. Whether it’s his 1966 Chevy or his health, the bigger picture always has been in plain sight, along with patience and an overall appreciation for the people who have helped him along the way.

Read Duane Vragovich's story

Orlando Jaimes: Kidney Transplant

For Orlando, life is about new beginnings. Born with end stage renal disease, he died three times the day he was born and was on dialysis as a kid for nearly seven years, three times a week, where he says he spent a lot of time at home waiting for his first kidney.

Read Orlando Jaimes's story

TJ: Kidney Transplant

For TJ, what was thought to be typical “growing pains” turned out to be so much more. At the age of 16, his driver’s license physical revealed he had kidney disease that likely stemmed from having diabetes longer than he originally thought. TJ later was introduced to his nephrologist and was, in his words, “coasting” until life threw him another curveball.

Read TJ's story

Patrick McConnell: Kidney Transplant

At age 40, Paddy suffered a mini stroke due to high blood pressure, unbeknownst to him. While he changed medications, followed doctor’s orders, and attempted to get it under control, his kidneys slowly deteriorated over the years, leaving him with complete renal failure. Paddy had been placed on the transplant list at the end of 2016, after he connected with UPMC in Central Pa.

Read Patrick McConnell's story

Kelly Dietrich: Kidney Transplant

Kelly was diagnosed with kidney disease after having unexplained high blood pressure for two years as a young adult, along with fatigue and nausea. She was told she had IgA Nephropathy. Furthermore, the deterioration of her kidneys was happening fast, and she ended up on peritoneal dialysis for 10 months before her first transplant at age 27. Kelly felt fortunate that her husband was able to be her donor.

Read Kelly Dietrich's story

Grace Ajemba: Kidney Transplant

According to the Christian faith, the word “grace” means the free and unmerited favor of God as a bestowal of blessings. Anyone who has met Grace Ajemba may say she embodies that very definition given her personal journey. When Grace miscarried at four months, she remained ill and unaware of the cause until bloodwork revealed that she had multiple cysts on her kidney. Eventually, she would end up on dialysis. It was a diagnosis and lifestyle about which she was in denial for several years.

Read Grace Ajemba's story

Cecil Blackman: Kidney Transplant

Ongoing high blood pressure led to Cecil’s kidney failure in 2004. Yet, that was just the beginning of his health challenges. Several medical conditions, including infections in his spine, as well as a prostate cancer diagnosis, followed by stomach cancer, kept him on dialysis for nearly 15 years.

Read Cecil Blackman's story