‘It gave him eight good years with his loved ones’

Woman holding sign saying "My Kidney Recipient" with arrow pointing at man, who is holding sign with arrow pointing at her saying "My Living Donor"

Goodrich woman donated kidney to long-time family friend

Goodrich, MI – With an act of incredible generosity and kindness, Lynette Bailey gave a long-time family friend the most precious gift of all: time.

Lynette, now 65, donated a kidney to Jim Warren in 2006, giving her husband’s hunting buddy nearly 10 more years with his friends and family.

“He had eight good years,” Lynette Bailey said. “He did have some challenges, but he went back to life as usual – and so did his family.”

Shortly after her husband Roger introduced her to Jim and Sheila Warren in the early 90s, Jim was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease. A change in diet helped him manage the condition for more than a decade, but in the early 2000s, Jim’s health deteriorated and he needed dialysis treatments. Even then, he was reluctant to appeal to his family or friends.

“He would not talk to anyone about becoming a living donor,” Lynette said. “He said he was not willing to let anyone go through that for him. He was really stubborn.”

Still, she considered it and talked with her husband, along with her parents and her daughters. She was nearing 50 at the time and had some concerns of her own.

“It impacts them, too,” she said of her family. “I was going to need some help; I knew I wasn’t going to be up to par for a while. They were all super-supportive.”

With Roger and the rest of her family on board, she decided to get tested to see if she was a match. She was the only one from their circle of friends and family who proved to be a match – everyone else either had a different blood type or a pre-existing medical condition. The transplant surgery took place in January 2006.

It was a success. Lynette’s kidney started functioning before it was fully connected. Jim’s color returned to normal within 24 hours. He told friends and family then that he felt like running a marathon. Lynette took a little longer to recover, but soon went back to work at Delphi and, later, finished college.

“I have zero side effects from it. I’m super healthy at 65,” she said. “Nothing bothers me anymore. I can do everything I did beforehand.”

man and woman at outdoor event, smiling at the cameraLynette has since become active with the National Kidney Foundation and Gift of Life Michigan, telling her story and urging people to sign up as organ and tissue donors.

April is National Donate Life Month, and April 6 is Living Donor Day, set aside to honor living organ and tissue donors for saving and healing lives. Last year, more than 6,500 people made the decision to give one of their kidneys or a part of their liver to someone waiting for a second chance at life.

Jim has since passed from an unrelated accident, but Lynette said she never second-guessed the decision that gave him more time with his friends and family.

“If I could turn back the clock, knowing everything I know. I would do it again in a heartbeat,” Lynette said. “It gave him eight years with his loved ones that he might not have had. I feel like I fulfilled my mission in life and every day is a bonus.”

Sign up today on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.

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